CDC reports that the best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated every year, and has begun a campaign to encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine, especially those with weakened immune systems like CKD patients, who have an increased risk of severe illness from the flu, even without considering COVID-19 – which you can get along with the flu. Find campaign resources like the animation below, in English and Spanish, at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/freeresources/graphics/animated-fight-flu-punch.htm .
CMS will present an October 8, 2020 webinar for anyone who advises Medicare enrollees on Getting Ready for the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. The three-hour webinar begins at 10am PDT, but you will need a CMS National Training Program account to get in, so start earlier. If you don’t already have an account, getting one is painless, but CMS has to confirm a new account before you can proceed, and they warn that confirmation can take ten minutes or more.
Anyone advising beneficiaries on Medicare Open Enrollment would also be likely to improve their advice by reviewing Beth Witten’s HDC: Insurance 101 for Social Workers, at https://nwrnbulletins.wordpress.com/2020/07/02/hdc-insurance-101-for-social-workers/ .
The Getting Ready webinar shares Medicare Program updates and resources to help those who assist Medicare beneficiaries to make informed decisions about their 2021 health care coverage. Create a new account if necessary at https://cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/ , and find the webinar at https://cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/?q=global-search&combine=Open+Enrollment . The 2020 Medicare Open Enrollment Period, during which people with Medicare can make changes to their health plans and prescription drug coverage to meet their health care needs for the following year, spans October 15 to December 7.
The CMS National Training Program includes a catalog of recorded courses and online self-paced trainings for staff members who work with Medicare, starting with Introductions that have no prerequisites. Many are repeated in Spanish. Find the course catalog at https://cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/?q=ntp-courses .
The HHS Administration for Community Living ( https://acl.gov/ ) has prepared a toolkit, Preparing for a Remote Medicare Open Enrollment: Managing through COVID-19 Toolkit, containing successful practices, templates, and checklists to help you and your clients stay safe from COVID-19 during this year’s Open Enrollment. Find the Toolkit at https://www.shiptacenter.org/covid-19/toolkit .
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:
- CMS Flu Shot webpage for providers – https://www.cms.gov/flu-provider.
- CDC Flu website (for everyone) – https://www.cdc.gov/FLU/. Also available in Spanish and eight other languages.*
- CDC Flu Information for Health Professionals – https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/index.htm. Also available in Spanish.*
- CDC Fight Flu Toolkit – https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/prepare-practice-tools.htm. Also available in Spanish and eight other languages.*
- HHS Vaccines.gov website – https://www.vaccines.gov/. Also available in Spanish.*
* 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.
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 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:
- Natural Disasters, Severe Weather, and COVID-19:
- Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19:
- Hurricanes and COVID-19 – most of this information applies as well to other wide-area disasters:
- Going to a Public Disaster Shelter During the COVID-19 Pandemic:
- COVID-19 Resources for Professionals & Emergency Workers:
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).
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:
MEI has updated the most popular module, Module 9: Nutrition and Fluids for People on Dialysis, in it’s award-winning Kidney School. The new Module 9 has been completely updated with new information about the value of eating real food, phosphorus absorption from food additives vs. meat and plants, graphics and photos, and brand-new meal plans and recipes, and was reviewed by expert renal dietitians. A Spanish translation will be available soon.
Kidney School offers free, tailored education for people with stages 4-5 CKD. Sixteen interactive modules at the 6th grade reading level help patients and family members learn about kidney disease, treatment options, coping skills, lab tests, diet and nutrition, and much more. Each online module creates a Personal Action Plan. Audio files and PDFs in English and Spanish are also available. Continuing education credits are available for professionals.
Now that high summer and higher temperatures have arrived, Harmful Algae Blooms (“HABs”) are an increasing threat to recreational and subsistence uses of bodies of fresh- and salt-water. HABs can impact, sometimes fatally, harvesting of water- and shoreline-dwelling animals and plants, drinking, swimming, wading, and boating. Pets and children are particularly vulnerable because they can rush into water before you even realize they’re out of the car. The Oregon Health Authority advises,
“Don’t go into water that looks foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish red. A good rule of thumb for you and your pet is: When in Doubt, Stay Out!” (https://www.oregon.gov/OHA/PH/HealthyEnvironments/Recreation/HarmfulAlgaeBlooms/pages/index.aspx).
Bear in mind that most waters are not monitored for toxicity, so the lack of a warning sign is not enough to assure safe use. The following websites provide information on identifying and responding to toxic waters and their impacts, and include alerts on the few, most popular, waters that are monitored and posted:
- Shellfish Poisoning:
- Alaska – https://aoos.org/alaska-hab-network/,
- California – https://mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/index.html,
- Idaho – https://www.deq.idaho.gov/water-quality/surface-water/recreation-health-advisories/cyanobacteria-harmful-algal-blooms/,
- Montana – https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/Epidemiology/hab,
- Oregon – https://www.oregon.gov/OHA/PH/HealthyEnvironments/Recreation/HarmfulAlgaeBlooms/pages/index.aspx,
- Washington – https://www.nwtoxicalgae.org/.
The Washington website is also available in Spanish, Somali, and Viet. As an example of a posted warning, Odell Lake near Willamette Pass, between Eugene and Klamath Falls OR, has recently been posted; see the Oregon website above.
Network Provider Newsletters for Summer 2020 have been published. They include articles on:
- Network Support for COVID-19.
- The ESRD QIP.
- New QIP website interface.
- Staff Burnout.
- Patient Psychosocial Needs.
- NCC “Web Hub” for Patients (Network 16 only).
- Seeking Volunteers for Spanish-Speaking PAC (Network 18 only).
- Data Currency in CROWNWeb.
- Links to Network Patient Newsletters.
- Patient Emergency Preparedness.
- Interruptions in Service.
- KCER Newsletter.
- Staff Changes.
- Link to Events Calendar (Network 18 only).
- Network email Updates.
Find them at:
- Network 16: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/nwrn.org/files/NL/16.Provider+Newsletter-++Summer+2020.pdf.
Networks 16 and 18 have assembled a web page on Healthcare Workers – Coping with Infectious Disease Outbreaks in the Dialysis Setting. In addition to guidance for maintaining your own health in situations of extreme stress, it includes links to the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (in English, Spanish, and 14 other languages) and their document on Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health: Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation during an Infectious Disease Outbreak. Find the Network web page at http://www.esrdnetwork18.org/wp-content/uploads/20200313-Coping-with-ID-Outbreaks.pdf. While it’s aimed at facility staff, patients will also find it useful for managing their own stress.