What officials say people needing medical treatment should do during the winter storm

Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for Houston, talks about hospitals, dialysis, outpatient clinics and more.
Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for Houston, talks about hospitals, dialysis, outpatient clinics and more.

HOUSTON – Days of power outages coupled with low water pressure because of icy weather have left some people wondering when they will be able to get the medical care they need on a regular basis.

Dr. David Persse, Houston’s chief medical officer, spoke about various medical situations he has seen pop up during the winter storm.

Here’s a closer look at his advice.

Hospitals are not warming centers

Persse said hospitals are filling up with people seeking refuge from the cold. He said hospitals are not designed to be temporary shelters. He encouraged anyone needing to get warm to go to a designated warming center in their area.

You can find a list of warming centers here.

If you’re going to a warming center

Persse said patients who regularly use medical equipment can go to warming centers to recharge the batteries on those devices. He said it’s important for those patients to bring all of their batteries and the equipment needed to run the medical device.

Make sure you also bring any medications you need. Persse said the warming centers do not have pharmacies, so it’s up to the patients to ensure they are sticking with their medication regimen.

You can find a list of warming centers here.

Dialysis patients

Persse said people who need dialysis may be having trouble getting their treatment because many of the dialysis centers are dealing with power outages and low water pressure. He said city officials are working with the largest dialysis providers to get water service restored as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, some providers may direct their patients to other dialysis centers that do have the ability to provide treatment.

“That’s OK,” Persse said. “That’s being coordinated, and we’ve done that before during hurricanes.”

Fresenius Kidney Care spokesman Brad Puffer said in a written statement that about half of the company’s dialysis centers have been affected by the winter storm. Other centers are running on generators.

“We are actively responding to the region with water trucks, additional generators and emergency supplies,” Puffer said.

Fresenius patients can contact the company’s emergency hotline at 800-626-1297.

Outpatient clinics

Persse said most outpatient clinics are dealing with power outages and water issues just like everyone else. He said most of those places are closed, and he encouraged patients to call ahead to see if the clinic is even open.

There are no organized transportation services at this time to take people to outpatient clinics, Persse said.

Carbon monoxide dangers

Persse said there have been more carbon-monoxide-poisoning cases during this crisis than any time he can remember. He urged people to stop using outdoor heating equipment indoors and to become familiar with the early signs of CO poisoning.

You can read more here.

Look out for each other

Persse encouraged people to check on their neighbors and make sure they are weathering the storm in a safe way. He said if people have resources to spare, they should use them to help others in the community who may be in worse shape.


About the Author:

Aaron Barker has been a senior digital editor at KPRC 2 since 2016. As a meteorologist, he specializes in stories about the weather. He has covered Hurricane Harvey, the Astros first World Series win, the Santa Fe High School shooting, the ITC fire and Tropical Storm Imelda.