COVID-19 has everyone thinking differently about their daily routines -- how we work, stay connected with family, and even get our groceries.
For many, buying groceries during COVID-19 is just a matter of adjusting shopping schedules and wearing a face mask for protection. But for the more than 37 million in the U.S. with chronic kidney disease (CKD), a run to the grocery store has become far more complicated. 1 Yet, proper nutrition remains as important as ever for these individuals. That’s why the pandemic is forcing many individuals with CKD and their loved ones to consider a “new normal” around how they get their nutrition.
The brief history of COVID-19’s spread in the U.S. underscores why. The first deaths in the U.S. due to the virus were patients at an outpatient dialysis clinic. In Washington State, the first “hot spot” in the nation, 50 percent of COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU at one hospital had some form of kidney disease. 2
People who are immunocompromised are more susceptible to infection from disease including COVID-19. And, if they contract the virus, they’re at higher risk for complications and severe illness. 3 Kidney disease can weaken the immune system and make a person more prone to infectious disease. In fact, infectious disease is the second most common cause of death in CKD patients after cardiovascular disease. 4 One reason is that CKD patients tend to pass more protein through their urine which compromises the immune system. 5
So, with a novel infectious disease rapidly reshaping everyone’s way of life, what should individuals with CKD do to protect their health? Social distancing and staying at home as much as possible can help shield them from virus transmission. However, staying home can limit access to the nutritious food needed to maintain kidney health. Diet is essential to managing CKD, but it’s also tricky as dietary requirements for the disease are complicated and often confusing. For instance, many with CKD must be careful about balancing potassium and phosphorus intake – something most people don’t think twice about. 6
Home-delivered meals, already popular in “normal” times for people with chronic illness and mobility issues, are now even more so. For those with CKD who are concerned about COVID-19 exposure when grocery shopping, meal delivery is a great option because home-delivered meals help them get the nutrition they need while supporting independence and a higher quality of life.
Fortunately, recent changes from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will make it easier for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients to access home-delivered meals. On February 2, 2020, CMS proposed a rule to give all beneficiaries with ESRD the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan starting in 2021. This will give patients with ESRD access to more affordable Medicare coverage choices and extra benefits, such as transportation or home-delivered meals. 7
What’s more, in an effort to promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS announced April 21, 2020 that Medicare Advantage organizations (MAOs) may temporarily offer enrollees meal delivery services not included in their 2020 benefit packages.8
But, not all home-delivered meals are equal and CKD patients must pay close attention to the nutrition they offer to ensure they provide the right protein, are low in sodium, and balance minerals appropriately.
Mom’s Meals is one of the few home-delivered meal providers that offers pre-made, renal-friendly meals designed for kidney disease patients by registered dietitians. They’re created to not only be delicious, but also to support the unique dietary needs of CKD patients. Learn more