Emergencies and disasters happen without warning. For kidney transplant and dialysis patients, disaster preparedness is particularly important as disaster situations can severely limit the availability of resources required for successful dialysis treatment. The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter has partnered with Western Pacific Renal Network to ensure that dialysis patients who may be physically handicapped, are still prepared in case of a disaster.
“Dialysis and transplant patients can be lower on the totem pole in their ability to survive a disaster,” explains Peter Traub, community outreach coordinator for Western Pacific Renal Network (WPRN),
Based in Novato, California, WPRN covers Northern California, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and Saipan and serves approximately 20,700 End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients. One of the key goals of the organization is to educate patients and caregivers on the most current resources and information about emergency preparedness relating to ESRD patients. They also aim to empower patients and caregivers to be self-sustaining for as long as possible during a disaster.
“Partnering with the Red Cross has been amazing,” Traub said. “Their earthquake preparedness drill, for example, is very important to patients who are often sitting down and connected to a dialysis machine.”
Together, WPRN and the Red Cross developed wallet-sized emergency contact cards for ESRD patients. The cards include crucial contacts for the dialysis patient, and details of their special needs.
So far, 20,000 wallet cards have been distributed. Traub is pleased with the progress that has already been made. “During the recent power outage in the Tenderloin last June, several Red Cross wallet cards were produced, showing that this initiative is working.”
WPRN and the Red Cross are continuing to work together in their efforts to develop disaster preparedness resources for ESRD patients in collaboration with government and community partners.