Hurricane Harvey’s public-health nightmare

Dialysis is a special concern, and for residents in Houston, already approaching crisis. As NPR reports, it’s important for patients with kidney failure to receive dialysis services every two to three days. But local dialysis centers are struggling with the demand, and with shortages of qualified staff, since several nurses who’d normally work in the centers are themselves displaced by the flood. And while companies like the DaVita Med Center and its locations around the Houston area are working around the clock to meet the area’s dialysis needs, as patients go longer without regular services and appointment reminders, the only solution to keeping them alive may be taking them to one of the area’s hospitals.

And the hospitals are running up against their limits, too. When I spoke to Mary Brandt, a pediatric surgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital, she was driving home through receding floodwaters after five straight days of work. She and her colleagues had just completed the first shift of what she described as a “military kind of operation,” and fittingly had just been relieved by a team of reinforcements. “Texas Children’s Hospital has leadership that has just gotten this down to an art,” Brandt told me. “Everything was covered.”