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Winter storms pounded nearly two dozen states in the Midwest and the Northeast in January, creating frigid weather for NFL playoff games and placing the term “polar vortex” into the weather forecast vernacular. And, while climates eventually returned to their seasonal norms the bitter cold set emergency teams in motion in most kidney communities east of the Mississippi.

“We had a handful of facilities that did close,” during winter storm Hercules, said Tom Bradsell, who heads Davita’s Village Emergency Response Team. “There was a lot of ice predicted with the rain and snow. ”

The Kidney Community Emergency Response Coalition met with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials during winter storm Hercules to assess the impact. KCER sent out an extreme cold weather guide to the ESRD Networks, CMS, and to large dialysis organizations.

With a warning of the cold temperatures ahead, dialysis providers scheduled patients in early for treatment before roads iced up and closed. Bradsell said that was Davita’s approach to the emergency; once patients were dialyzed and sent home, clinics in areas where travel was restricted closed their doors. Ultimately, Davita closed 25 facilities after the cumulative effects from winter storm Ion, including in states like Illinois, Indiana (governors in both states declared a state of emergency and restricted travel), Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio. Only a few communities reported power outages, Bradsell said.

Read more about how dialysis providers prepared for the storms at NephrologyNews.com/WinterStorms