Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA) and DaVita Inc. (DVA) announced a collaboration in response to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), which aims to support the broader kidney care community by offering isolation capacity for dialysis patients who are or may be COVID-19 positive.
In this unprecedented time, the two companies are working together in cooperation with U.S. Renal Care, American Renal Associates, Satellite Healthcare, and other dialysis organizations. Together, they are creating a nationwide contingency plan with the goal of helping to maintain continuity of care for dialysis patients by creating isolation cohort capacity that can be accessed by other dialysis providers.
Dialysis patients represent one of the most at-risk populations, particularly during these dynamic times. They must receive treatment multiple days a week for three to four hours at a time to stay alive, which presents a unique challenge for patients and their care teams when social distancing is required to reduce the possibility of community spread and infection.
“In this national crisis, our healthcare professionals have unwavering commitment and dedication to our patients,” said Javier Rodriguez, CEO of DaVita Inc. “Dialysis is not optional, it is life-sustaining. In these trying times, we think that by working collaboratively, we can combine resources, clinical expertise, and physical space to help ensure all patients across the kidney care community have access to life-sustaining care in the safest environment possible.”
A critical aim of this collaboration is to keep dialysis patients out of the hospital whenever possible, freeing up limited hospital resources. The companies are focused on ensuring there are enough nurses, social workers, dietitians, care technicians, and available space to treat all dialysis patients, including those who are or may be infected with COVID-19 – in a manner that does not unnecessarily expose the hundreds of thousands of other patients who entrust them with their care.
“We are committed to doing whatever we can to keep our care teams, patients, and physicians safe,” said Bill Valle, CEO of Fresenius Medical Care North America. “The collective expertise and capabilities of our companies are benefitting patients and the healthcare system as a whole. Together, we can make a more meaningful, positive impact.”
Dialysis organizations have designated capacity in select clinics across their national networks to create isolation units and shifts, which will treat patients who are or may be COVID-19 positive separately. This collaboration will help safeguard caregivers, will conserve personal protective equipment and other important supplies, and will create an environment that provides excess capacity for providers that may be overwhelmed with larger COVID-19 clusters. There is strong evidence that diligent isolation will mitigate the potential of cross-spread due to close contact among patients and staff.
“We are focused on ensuring our at-risk patients continue to receive their life-sustaining treatment while providing a safe environment for patients, their physicians, and our heroic staff. This collaboration will help us meet these goals,” stated Mary Dittrich, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and interim CEO of U.S. Renal Care. “U.S. Renal Care is proud to be working closely with other providers to provide this safety net.”
The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) acted swiftly to demonstrate a true commitment to address the crisis and protect this patient population. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as other government agencies, the dialysis community remains committed to staying in lockstep on infection control and clinical best practices. Further instructions on how to refer patients will be published through the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) Program, under contract with CMS.