Dialysis is a lifeline for the approximately 726,000 people living with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Staying at home is not always an option for the vast majority who receive treatment at one of the 5,000 private dialysis centers across the country.
Dialysis centers are working to ensure continued and safe access to treatment for patients and to protect the healthcare professionals who deliver the care. Modern Healthcare magazine covered this important and evolving issue in a recent article. Steps taken at dialysis centers include:
- Heightened attention to CDC guidelines and precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Expect to see dialysis center staff wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and possibly a face shield.
- In compliance with social distancing, patients may be more spread out than usual.
- Patients can expect to be screened before being admitted to the dialysis center.
- In communities where an outbreak exists, dialysis centers may schedule dialysis patients with COVID-19 for the last appointments of the day to allow for terminal cleaning of the dialysis center.
- In communities where there is a COVID-19 cluster, there may be dialysis centers solely dedicated to treating patients with the virus.
The CDC issued additional guidance for infection prevention in outpatient dialysis centers, available here. As this is an evolving situation, we recommend you check the CDC website frequently.
Patients also play an essential role in protecting themselves from COVID-19, and if they are positive for COVID-19, taking precautions to protect others. Patients can:
- Familiarize yourself with COVID-19 symptoms. Typical symptoms include fever, body aches, sore throat, running nose/congestion, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms, contact your treatment team.
- Wear a mask when going outside. Just recently, the CDC issued guidance recommending that people wear cloth masks to stem the spread of the disease. More information, including how to make a mask, can be found here.
- Stay at home as much as possible. Trips outside your home should be limited to dialysis treatment, pharmacy, and food shopping.
- Adhere to your treatment and medication regimen unless otherwise advised by a member of your treatment team or primary care physician.
- Turn to the National Kidney Foundation’s COVID-19 resource center for a wide range of information for patients living with kidney disease.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty and disruption in the lives of all Americans, and unimaginable concern among people living with chronic diseases who need to continue treatment, often outside their homes, to stay healthy. Healthmap Solutions will continue to share information as the CDC and other health organizations update their guidance. To stay informed, follow us @healthmapcare and on LinkedIn and Facebook.