By Anastasia Korbitz, LCSW
Whether you are planning a cruise to Hawaii to take hula lessons, hopping on a plane to England to drink tea with the Queen, or driving to the North woods to watch the annual cow patty toss, planning ahead, being flexible and partnering with WDI will make your travel experience like a day at the beach! So where do you start?
- Determine the dates of your travel. Be flexible with your travel dates, as the destination unit may not have your exact requested dates available.
- Planning at least 4-6 weeks in advance, in most case, is a good rule of thumb. Some of the "hot spots," such as the cabin up north during the 4th of July, is a good example of the need to plan ahead.
- Have the address of where you will be staying while on vacation and be prepared to provide this information to WDI.
- If you have a computer, you can locate the dialysis unit closest to where you will be staying (please refer to the table). Otherwise, a staff member can assist you in locating a unit.
- Be prepared to sign a consent form and provide copies of your insurance cards to your WDI social worker or travel coordinator. This information will be needed to inquire about availability.
- Traveling to an unfamiliar unit can be stressful which is all the more reason to call and learn more. Once you have been given the "OK" by the accepting unit, call and speak with their charge nurse or social worker to get the "lowdown" on their policies regarding lidocaine use, linen provisions and visitor policies.
- Educate yourself on your insurance coverage. As a general rule Medicare will pay 80% of dialysis, but only in the US. You may be asked to pay the remaining 20%.
- Once you arrive at your destination, contact your unit to confirm your start date and time. Arrive at the new unit at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time to get yourself acquainted with your "home away from home".
- Most of all enjoy your adventure and be prepared to tell the staff all about your trip when you return. Bon Voyage!
Helpful Websites for the Savvy Traveler
www.dialysisfinder.com: Enter a city, address, zip code or state for a map and listing of dialysis units in the area you are traveling to.
www.globaldialysis.com: Includes inter-national listings for places to stay, travel agents, tours, cruises and travel insurance as well as dialysis centers.
www.medicare.gov/dialysis/home.asp: This site lists Medicare-approved dialysis facilities in the U.S. It has a feature allowing you to compare many facilities.
www.nephron.com: Search this site for dialysis units.
Attention PD patients: Please discuss your travel plans with your PD nurse. Although most of what has been discussed in this article pertains to you, and you are encouraged to participate in all levels of planning for your travel, your nurse will need to discuss the process of traveling with your PD supplies.