Multiple dialysis patients denied treatment due to low water pressure

Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 8:13 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A quiet Friday afternoon at the DaVita Dialysis Center on Earhart Blvd. after a nearby water main break dropped water pressure in the neighborhood.

Registered nurse Jaliska Magee says she wasn’t notified of any water shutoffs for the day and expected all of the clinic’s usual clients to arrive just after lunch. So she was in shock when the water alert system went off.

“We go to the water room and it says ‘low water supply.’ In order to treat, the water pressure has to be at a certain water level to be safe,” Magee said. “That’s what DaVita means, give life. I can’t give them life without any water.”

Magee says eight patients had to be turned away while the facility was out of water for more than two hours.

RoadworkNOLA says it resulted from a subcontractor breaking a water main while trying to remove a tree near Burdette and Claiborne, about seven blocks away from the clinic.

But even though the water turned on later in the afternoon, Magee says it was too late for patients like Michael Banks.

“If I don’t get it today, then most likely I will have to wait until Monday. So that’s Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” Banks said. “I begin to suffer. I build up toxins in my body. I get really sick. I can pass out and the next step could be death.”

Other patients say finding last-minute appointments is a struggle, especially on the weekend.

“When I could be at home resting, I have to wake up in the morning and get up to do this and rearrange my whole day for tomorrow,” patient Luther Squalls Jr. said.

DaVita workers say the Sewerage and Water Board usually alerts them of water shutoffs well in advance while road work happens behind their parking lot. The staff would ensure patients are scheduled when that isn’t the case. But they say recently, shutoffs have been more and more random, with no notice.

“Without the notice, this is like the third time within the last four months,” Magee said.

The Sewerage and Water Board says today’s shut-off was an emergency closure and RoadWorkNOLA and the contractor is responsible for sending out an alert.

It’s a hassle for patients who don’t have reliable transportation and who have to leave work early for treatment.

Traveling musician Eric Bolivar says he’s fed up.

“It’s pretty standard in New Orleans but anywhere else it would be shocking,” Bolivar said.

Sewerage and Water Board officials say the best way to stay up-to-date about ongoing construction projects, delays or water issues is to sign up for alerts through the RoadworkNOLA website.

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