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Local dialysis centers opened a little late today due to ramifications of Hurricane Sandy, but they've taken precautions to make sure patients receive the assistance they need in the midst of the storm.
The Howard University Dialysis Center opened at noon today and will stay open later in order to accommodate those who would have had a hard time getting to the hospital early in the morning right after the storm.
Many of Sandra Leftwich's fellow dialysis patients rely on special transportation services to take them to and from the Center, she says.
"And most of the people, they get weak and tired and sick when they get off. And actually I don’t go through that," she says.
Dr. Constance Mere and her team at the Howard University Dialysis Center are coping well with the hurricane, thanks to the center's emergency-preparedness protocol.
"All dialysis centers in the country have that," says Dr. Mere. "It's something that we actually do a run-through with our patients periodically."
She says she and her staff will keep monitoring the situation, to determine how the Center will run the rest of this week. Meanwhile Leftwich, who goes by Sandy" for short — says she’s keeping her sense of humor.
Patients who can't come in for treatment know to follow emergency diet guidelines, and to call 911 if they're in distress. "We've been through this with them several times as a preparation, even without a storm," she says. "So there's a concern, but we're ready. We're prepared for it."
In fact, she says, because of that preparation, roughly 90 percent of the center's patients did indeed show up today.
"Our social worker started making phone calls to the different transport services on Friday," she says. "And also she came in early this morning and made phone calls too. And she was able to provide transportation to patients."
To accommodate patients who may not be able to arrive first thing tomorrow, Dr. Mere says the Center will open at noon.