NW16/OR Medicare Wildfire Assistance

CMS has prepared a press release summarizing the steps that Medicare has taken in Oregon to help make health care available to wildfire victims, including opening special enrollment periods to allow out-of-season initiations or changes to Medicare coverage, various kinds of assistance to healthcare facilities, and help to displaced dialysis patients.  Find the press release at https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-offers-comprehensive-support-oregon-due-wildfires.

2020 Flu Season

CDC has published (non-COVID-19) flu vaccine recommendations for the 2020-2021 season.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the spread of respiratory illness, like flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever.  Find the 2020-2021 recommendations at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/summary/summary-recommendations.htm.  Also available in Spanish and eight other languages.*

Medicare Part B covers one flu shot per flu season and additional flu shots if medically necessary.  Flu shots are free for Medicare patients.  Pneumonia and flu shots can be given during the same office visit; find recommended schedules at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult.html.

CDC, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee recommend that all U.S. health care workers get annual flu shots.

Find More Information at:

* To find the non-English versions, go to the links above, then click on “Español” or “Other Languages” – these links are either in the upper right corner of the page, or between the title and the text of the document.

9/24 DPC Webinar in Spanish on Blood Sugar

Dialysis Patient Citizens will present a September 24, 2020 Spanish-language webinar on Manejando Mi Glucosa En Sangre Cuando Tengo Enfermedad Renal (Managing My Blood Glucose When I Have Kidney Disease), covering carbohydrates and their effect on blood glucose, how much carbs to eat, and how to avoid high and low blood glucose extremes.  Find more information below, and register for this and future DPC webinars at https://www.dpcedcenter.org/news-events/education-webinars/.

Upcoming DPC webinars include:

  • Things to Know About Medicare Advantage’s First Open Enrollment for Dialysis Patients – October 22, 2020,
  • Looking Out for the Caregiver: Understanding the People Who Care for Dialysis Patients – November 19, 2020,
  • Coping with the Holidays – December 17, 2020.

CDC Evacuation Advice

CDC has launched a new web page on Natural Disasters, Severe Weather, and COVID-19, to provide information on how people can stay safe during and after natural disasters during the COVID-19 response.  The page and a few of its useful links follow:

Understand that your planning and preparation may be different this year because of the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Give Yourself Time: Give yourself more time than usual to prepare your emergency food, water, and medicine supplies.  Home delivery is the safest choice for buying disaster supplies, but it may not be an option for everyone.  If in-person shopping is your only choice, take steps to protect your and other’s health when running essential errands.

Pack Your Go Kit: If you need to evacuate, prepare a “go kit” with personal items you cannot do without during an emergency.  Include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, bar or liquid soap, disinfectant wipes (if available), and two masks for each person.  Masks should not be used by children under the age of 2.  They also should not be used by people having trouble breathing, or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Keep Your Distance: When you check on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations (staying at least 6 feet from others) and other CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.

Read more about COVID-19 specific key disaster messages in Hurricane Key Messages: COVID-19 Annex (Spanish), in addition to the Preparedness and Safety Messaging for Hurricanes, Flooding, and Similar Disasters (Spanish).

9/16 NCC Tip Sheets on Multigenerational Living

The supplement the September 16, 2020 NCC COVID-19 webinar on Living in a Multi-Generational Household, NCC has produced one-page tip sheets in English and Spanish on Staying Safe in Multigenerational Households (Cómo mantenerse seguro en un hogar mul generacional).  Find more details and register for the webinar at https://esrdncc.org/en/events/2020/september-2020/covid09162020/?date=9/1/2020.  Find the tip sheets below:

2020-21 CDC Flu Vaccine Recommendations

CDC has published their recommendations for influenza vaccinations, suggesting that reducing seasonal influenza will help avoid confusion with pandemic COVID-19, and help relieve pressure on overloaded healthcare facilities.  Find the recommendations at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/rr/rr6908a1.htm?s_cid=rr6908a1_e&deliveryName=USCDC_921-DM35682.

Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19

A recent CDC announcement comments on wildfire smoke:

“Wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system, and make you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that cause COVID-19.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing for wildfires might be a little different this year.  Know how wildfire smoke can affect you and your loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and what you can do to protect yourselves.”

The rest of the announcement details what you can do about it.  Find it at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/covid-19/wildfire_smoke_covid-19.html.

Hot Weather Health

In all of the resources below, remember that dialysis patients must still control their fluid intake.  For tips on Dialysis Fluids Management in English, see https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/nwrn.org/files/NW18/Fluids.Eng.pdf and in Spanish, see https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/nwrn.org/files/NW18/Liquidos.esp.pdf.  These should override the water-consumption suggestions in all of the documents below.

The Oregon Health Authority has an excellent web page on Extreme Heat, that includes FAQ sheets in English, Español (Spanish), Русский (Russian), 简体中文 (Simplified Chinese), Af Soomaali (Somali), and tiếng Việt (Vietnamese).  Find it at https://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/Preparedness/Prepare/Pages/PrepareForExtremeHeat.aspx.

Homeland Security’s “Ready.gov” website has a thorough discussion of how to stay cool and safe in extreme heat, at https://www.ready.gov/heat.  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a page on how to identify signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and what to do about it, at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/heatrelillness.html.  CDC has a program that sends out a weekly email on Five Minutes or Less for Health Weekly Tip, which also covers skin cancer, hydration, and communicable diseases from mosquitoes and ticks.  Review their hot weather Tips or sign up at https://www.cdc.gov/family/minutes/tips/summersavvy/index.htm.

HDC Blog Post on Dialysis, Travel, and COVID-19

Home Dialysis Central has added a post to their blog called Dialysis Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic.  It’s important for dialysis patients to know and accept that they are at higher risk for serious complications if they get COVID-19, because they have kidney failure.  This is true for any ESRD patient, not just those who are 65 or older.  According to CMS, during the first half of 2020 Medicare patients on dialysis were more than twice as vulnerable to COVID-19 infection compared to non-dialysis Medicare patients, and more than four times as likely to require hospitalization.  Find the HDC post at https://homedialysis.org/news-and-research/blog/372-dialysis-travel-during-the-covid-19-pandemic.