10/28/05 - American Nephrology Nurses' Association Leads Relief Effort Following Hurricane Katrina

October 28, 2005
Contact: Linda Alexander
856-256-2300, ext. 2411 • linda@ajj.com

American Nephrology Nurses’ Association
Leads Relief Effort Following Hurricane Katrina

Pitman, NJ – After Hurricane Katrina hit in August, nephrology nurse Sue Preuett Cary raced to a shelter near her home in Baton Rouge, LA. Cary knew kidney patients would be facing a life-threatening need for care, so she walked through the shelter calling out for anyone who was on dialysis to answer her and that she was there to help.

“When people found out I was a nephrology nurse, you could see the tears of relief when I told them we could get them to dialysis that day,” Cary said. “These survivors had strength and courage beyond what anyone could imagine.”

Cary, who is Southeast Vice President for the American Nephrology Nurses’ Association (ANNA), said some of the cases were heart-wrenching. One mother, who had not been dialyzed for a week, was afraid she would die and leave her young daughter alone. Cary, joined by her husband and sisters-in-law, transported the woman to the hospital for her dialysis and arranged for her daughter to stay with her the whole time.  

“This woman had lost everything, but she hugged me and cried when I was able to make arrangements for her dialysis,” said Cary.

Another kidney patient, a man, was overcome with worry about his missing wife. “He was scared and short of breath when we found him late one evening,” recalls Cary. Cary’s husband transported the man to a dialysis facility, waited for him to finish treatment and drove him back to the shelter.

“I was there the day the social worker at the dialysis unit found this man’s wife, and they were able to speak on the phone,” Cary said. “The hug he gave me when he hung up the phone made all our tiring hours worth the effort.”

Cary’s rescue work is just one example of how ANNA and its members mobilized to help patients – and dialysis nurses – affected by Katrina. Following the hurricane, ANNA sparked relief efforts in the dialysis community by providing financial support; enlisting nurses from across the country to care for kidney patients and relieve nurses in the Gulf Coast; and providing an outlet for ANNA members and the public to donate money and offer support.

According to ANNA President Suzann VanBuskirk, BSN, RN, CNN, the association’s actions have helped ease nursing shortages in the devastated region and maintain quality care for renal patients.

Thanks to a generous grant from Amgen, ANNA has been able to distribute funds allaying the costs of health care, housing, food and clothing to ANNA members and non-members directly affected by Katrina. ANNA members may still apply for the disaster relief grant for themselves or others by visiting the ‘Hurricane Katrina Information Center’ at www.annanurse.org and completing the grant application, VanBuskirk said.  

In addition to helping financially, ANNA has also joined with other nephrology organizations to meet the critical needs of renal patients and provide relief for caregivers in dialysis facilities. ANNA continues to support dialysis industry-wide recovery initiatives that are part of a collaborative effort of the End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Networks, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and many nephrology-specific professional associations and renal providers by identifying and mobilizing individual volunteers and placing them in facilities strained by Hurricane Katrina. Many volunteers have already provided assistance and relief to facilities in the affected areas, and more volunteers are welcome to help.

Health care providers with dialysis expertise who wish to volunteer are encouraged to visit ANNA's ‘Hurricane Katrina Information Center’ and complete the dialysis volunteer application form. Facilities that need help should also visit the ‘Hurricane Katrina Information Center’ and complete the needs assessment form.

“Many of us who live so far from the Gulf Coast feel so helpless at a time when much is needed. The long recovery is just beginning, but we are hearing stories of great courage and caring,” VanBuskirk, said. “ANNA is pleased to take such an active role in the nephrology and dialysis community collaboration to assist in the relief efforts, helping our members and other caregivers and assuring that patients continue to receive care.”

ANNA’s ‘Hurricane Katrina Information Center’ can be accessed at www.annanurse.org and features up-to-date information, resources for nurses and patients, an online forum to share stories and offer support, and links to other sites. Applications for grants and volunteer opportunities mentioned in this release may be found in the ‘Hurricane Katrina Information Center.’ Visit www.annanurse.org to learn more about ANNA’s efforts.

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ANNA is a professional nursing association with 11,900 members. Its mission is to advance nephrology nursing practice and positively influence outcomes for patients with kidney disease processes requiring replacement therapies
through advocacy, scholarship and excellence.