On Friday, August 12, Southeast Louisiana received heavy rains – in excess of 25 inches in many areas – that caused the flooding of more than 60,000 homes and the deaths of at least 13 people. As the rain continued to fall, the local communities started to receive warnings that the Comite and Amite Rivers were beginning to fill and that they would likely overflow their banks.
Since DaVita operates two centers – East Baton Rouge Dialysis in Baton Rouge and Walker Dialysis in Livingston Parish – that could be impacted by this flooding, it was critical that the teammates spring into action.
The DaVita Village Emergency Response Team (DaVERT), a multi-disciplinary group dedicated to providing a wide range of support during natural disasters and other emergencies responded to the need. DaVERT’s primary goal is to develop plans and work with the local teams to help minimize the potential impact on patient treatments of any disaster scenario.
And that preparation paid off here.
When the local team heard about the possibility of flooding, they immediately made sure patients had their emergency packets, so if an evacuation were necessary, patients would have their treatment information available. The team also stressed the importance of the three-day emergency diets in the event that the flooding prevented patients from getting to their next scheduled treatment.
On Saturday, August 13, both centers started treatments earlier than normal to allow patients and teammates to get home early in the event flooding become a problem.
By Sunday morning, August 14, both centers received excess water. Upon learning this, the local team started scheduling patients at the company’s nearby Essen Lane and Scotlandville facilities. Also, realizing that the company had numerous teammates who needed housing assistance, the local team began securing hotel rooms so that teammates would have a safe, dry place to stay and the company could continue to care for its patients.
Two additional challenges presented themselves. First, the flooding disabled most wireless phone coverage, making communications a challenge since so many patients rely on mobile phones. The company posted signs on the doors of the facilities directing patients to call the company’s Guest Services center if they were unsure of what to do. Second, staffing was difficult, as 30 teammates’ homes were flood-damaged and the company needed to be able to give those teammates the time to handle issues at home. Thankfully, nearby teammates pitched in and provided the additional personnel needed to provide care for the patients.
Even though DaVita had many teammates whose homes were irreversibly damaged, whose cars were destroyed or who had to be rescued from their homes by boat, all teammates made it through the storm safely. And with the help of the emergency preparedness plans in place, all patients were accounted for and are safe.