Shifts in dialysis patients from natural disasters in 2005

Hemodial Int. 2007 Oct;11 Suppl 3:S33-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-4758.2007.00227.x.


Hurricanes Katrina and Rita alerted the world to North America's Gulf Coast's vulnerability to natural disasters. This vulnerability was most evident in poor, minority and elderly populations, and patients with chronic diseases requiring treatment such as dialysis. These hurricanes resulted in massive devastation of the healthcare infrastructure, including dialysis units, across the Gulf Coast region, and often resulted in temporary or permanent closure of dialysis units, predominantly in the New Orleans metropolitan area; however, Hurricane Rita primarily affected Lake Charles. Most notable was the population shift of dialysis patients in Louisiana due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Before the 2005 hurricane season, there were 2011 and 362 dialysis patients residing in the parishes (the Louisiana equivalent to counties) most affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, respectively. Each of these parishes had experienced increases in dialysis patient populations over the past 5 years. However, following the storms, there were 1014 and 316 dialysis patients residing in the affected parishes. Reasons for the population shifts were multifactorial in nature and included individual, provider, and healthcare system factors. As patients and physicians return to these affected areas, dialysis services will need to be reallocated based on new demographics and distribution of services in Louisiana communities. In planning for future dialysis services, adaptations will need to occur to prevent future interruption of services and loss of patient access to dialysis services.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Disaster Planning*
  • Disasters*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Relief Work
  • Renal Dialysis*