Individuals with weakened immune systems and serious underlying health conditions are more susceptible to complications from COVID-19, and that means kidney disease patients are of particular concern. Dialysis treatment is essential, life-sustaining care, and is most often provided at a dialysis center away from a patient's home. Given the need for patients receive treatment and care during a time of recommended shelter-in-place mandates and other social distancing recommendations, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) has issued five urgent reminders for patients:
- Do not skip treatment. Dialysis is life-sustaining and skipping a single session could put a patient's health at life-threatening risk.
- Maintain constant communication with your care team. As this public health crisis evolves, dialysis centers are being flexible, adjusting their policies to align with public health expert rules. These changes may result in clinics temporarily closing waiting rooms to family members, or require that patients remain in their car up until the start of their dialysis treatment.
- Speak up if you experience symptoms of COVID-19. Patients should to inform their dialysis center immediately if they experience any symptoms, or if they have been exposed to anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 so that the center can take appropriate measures, including possible referral to a hospital or other designated center for treatment.
- Have an adequate supply of food and medicine on hand. Patients need to minimize trips to supermarkets or pharmacies to limit potential exposure to the virus. Adequate food supply should include items that adhere to the KCER 3-Day Emergency Diet Plan.
- Follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for hygiene and social distancing. This includes regular handwashing and avoiding close contact with others.
AKF Patient Emergency Financial Support:
- AKF has established a Coronavirus Emergency Fund to provide critically needed financial assistance to low-income dialysis and transplant patients in the United States who are facing unexpected expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients may apply at gms.KidneyFund.org, but due to overwhelming demand, AKF has a waiting list for assistance.
- AKF is a 4-Star rated charity that is included on Charity Navigator's list of highly rated nonprofits providing emergency assistance in communities.
- AKF initially reallocated $300,000 from its existing budget to provide emergency assistance to patients for food, transportation and medicine. This entire budget was exhausted on the first day as applications came in from patients in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
- The organization is raising additional funds from the public and 100% of all donations will go directly to patients in need. Grants will be disbursed as funds become available. Find the donation link at KidneyFund.org/emergency.
- AKF aims to provide a $250 grant to any dialysis or recent kidney transplant patient in the United States who applies to AKF and demonstrates a financial need.
- AKF has a longstanding Disaster Relief Program for patients affected by natural disasters in specific locations, but this is the first time the organization has activated a nationwide emergency grant system.
AKF experts are available to speak with media:
- AKF can provide medical experts and staff experts, including members of the Board, to discuss the numerous ways this crisis is affecting kidney dialysis and transplant patients, who are especially at risk if they contract COVID-19.
- Mike Spigler, AKF's vice president of patient services and kidney disease education, recently posted a video discussing the issues patients are experiencing. Mike is closely following events as they unfold in the dialysis community and available to speak about the impact on patients.
- LaVarne Burton, AKF president and CEO, is available to speak on the issues patients are experiencing and AKF's response.
AKF COVID-19 Resources:
- AKF is communicating with patients and has developed helpful information and resources to help them keep up with the latest information at www.KidneyFund.org/coronavirus
About the American Kidney Fund
The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.