The IPRO ESRD Network of New England has told dialysis providers in the region to consider alternative patient scheduling in case dialysis clinics need to close on Wednesday because of a winter storm that is predicted to hit the area. A winter storm warning is in effect for the New England area from midnight tonight through Wednesday at 6 pm. Forecasters are predicting the following:

  • Snow accumulations of 8-12 inches with isolated areas up to 15 inches possible in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, with up to an inch of snow per hour
  • Snow changing over to a wintry mix making driving and visibility a concern, with visibility dropping to a quarter of a mile or less at times
  • Wind gusts 10-15 mph and up to 25 mph expected 

The ESRD Network of New England is also telling dialysis providers to make sure generators are accessible in case of a power outage. "A zone of wintry mix, snow changing to rain, or a period of ice will occur with the storm south and east of the heavy snow area," the ESRD Network said in an announcement to dialysis providers. "In a narrow zone, as the snow becomes more wet and heavy or changes to ice, there is the potential for downed trees and power outages. The area where this is most likely to occur includes southern New England. Travel delays and disruptions to daily activities are likely."

(CMS proposes new rules for disaster preparedness)

The ESRD Network provided the following dialysis provider to-do list.

  • Dialyze patients as close to impending storm as safety permits.
  • Pre-arrange back-up emergency water supply, and restoration of utilities.
  • Provide patients with the name and phone number of a backup facility as well as a list of all dialysis clinics in the surrounding area for use in finding an alternative treatment site.
  • Contact the Network at 203.387.9332 if your facility is going to be closed (unable to perform in-center dialysis) for more than three days.

Dialysis providers added extra shifts and then temporarily closed some facilities in Alabama and Georgia last week when frigid weather and ice storms stranded patients and staff at their homes. Motorists caught in icy conditions on the freeways abandoned their cars, causing massive traffic jams.