By Kevin Longino, CEO of National Kidney Foundation and kidney transplant patient
More and more states are now reopening or announcing their plans to do so. After months of sheltering in place, people with chronic diseases, like me, are very concerned about what needs to be done to make sure we all stay safe.
Sign Here to Save Lives
As states begin drafting and implementing plans to reopen businesses, government officials and healthcare providers must ensure that kidney patients are getting the care and the resources they need. In a petition NKF initiated this week, we’re advocating that life-critical “elective” surgeries (such as vascular access procedures) be given priority, patients be allowed to receive 90-day supplies of immunosuppressive drugs covered by Medicare Part B, testing for COVID-19 be increased and prioritized for kidney patients, patients with kidney failure retain their access to non-emergency medical transportation, and that living and deceased donor organ transplants be prioritized given the steep declines we’re seeing. I urge you to sign this petition which NKF plans to share with federal, state and local officials to make sure they address the unique needs of kidney patients.
Keeping the Docs Informed
As information continues to evolve around COVID-19 and its impact to kidney patients, it’s more important now than ever to keep doctors, and the entire interdisciplinary team devoted to caring for kidney patients, informed. The new NKF Clinical Digest, is a free resource which includes a compilation of the latest clinical information regarding COVID-19, curated by NKF subject matter experts. It also provides links to the most current patient resources and educational tools developed by NKF to support people living with kidney diseases through this crisis.
Staying Safe During Re-Opening
After months of sheltering-in-place, I’ve been thinking a lot about what reopening means to me as a kidney transplant patient. New data suggests that the mortality rate for kidney transplant patients from COVID-19 is a staggering 30%. Because I’m immune suppressed, sheltering in place and wearing protective gear when out has given me a temporary, protective bubble. There’s no question that once states reach the CDC reopening requirements they should reopen, but as a patient I can tell you it’s a little daunting to think about. I’m sure other patients are feeling the same way and to address this, NKF is hosting a Facebook Live and Webinar: The New Normal: What kidney patients need to know as the country begins to reopen on Thursday, May 7th at 2:30PM ET/11:30AM PT.
Also, if you or a family member has kidney disease, join us on May 2nd for a Virtual Education Series: Connect, Learn and Share. Health experts and kidney patients will discuss top of mind issues including telemedicine, transplantation, kidney-friendly eating on a budget, dealing with emotions and finding support, and the importance of physical activity for chronic kidney disease. You can join for just one session or all five, it’s free to register.
NKF will be closely following issues related to the reopening of our nation and next week we’ll share more of what we’re doing on a federal level to ensure the safety of our patients. In the meantime, if your state is opening please remember 100 million Americans with chronic diseases are counting on you to do the right thing, follow the CDC guidelines, and continue to practice social distancing.
As always, please continue to check our COVID-19 resource page where we post all the latest information on issues facing our community. If you have questions or need support, please contact our toll free patient information help line by calling (855) NKF-CARES, (1-855-653-2273) or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. And join our free online discussion forums.
Be well and stay safe.