The country's largest dialysis providers are joining forces to protect some of the most vulnerable patients during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dialysis clinic operators Fresenius Medical Care and DaVita, along with several other kidney care organizations, said they are working together to create and share a nationwide network of clinics that will focus on serving patients with COVID-19.
They said strategy will help safeguard caregivers, conserve personal protective gear and other supplies, and free up resources at hospitals, many of which are at or nearing capacity during the pandemic.
"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," DaVita CEO Javier Rodriguez said in a statement.
Experts say people on dialysis are some of the most at-risk patients during the pandemic. Not only do they suffer from kidney failure and have multiple other chronic conditions, most visit a dialysis center multiple times a week for treatment that cannot be put off. That makes it near impossible for them to practice social distancing, which public health experts say is necessary to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Roughly 750,000 people had end-stage kidney disease in 2017 and most of them were on dialysis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dialysis removes waste and fluid from the blood when the kidneys are no longer working.
In addition to DaVita and Fresenius, U.S. Renal Care, American Renal Associates and Satellite Healthcare are involved in the collaboration.