Severe winter weather can cause poor driving conditions and power outages that can interfere with your regular treatment schedule. Below are tips that you should be familiar with as the winter season kicks into gear:
• Keep your emergency phone numbers at hand. Contact your local clinic for information before contacting a patient disaster hotline such as Fresenius Medical Care's patient disaster hotline at 1-800-626-1297. Disaster hotlines are usually staffed by customer service specialists who can answer questions and direct all dialysis patients and their families to the nearest open clinic during an emergency.
• Talk to your doctor, dialysis care team, and family about a plan in case of an emergency. Know what you should do and where you should go if a disaster strikes, and keep track of local weather forecasts.
• Keep emergency provisions handy, such as bottled water, first-aid kit, flashlight (with extra batteries), blankets, battery-powered radio, cell phone, non-electric can opener, and any needed medications/supplies.
• Arrange for back-up transportation to the clinic with a friend, neighbor, or family member if you are an in-center patient.
• Follow the directions given to you by the home training staff for continuing dialysis in an emergency if you lose power as a home dialysis patient.
• Ask your doctor how to adjust your insulin dosage during winter storm emergencies.
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...