Fire Response Aims at Health Concerns

Direct Relief International today increased its support of emergency medical supplies to safety-net clinics and has extended offers of assistance to regional hospitals in Southern California, where uncontained fires have forced 500,000 people to evacuate their homes.

The organization has supplied 11 community clinics with inhalers, particulate masks, and nebulizers to treat patients experiencing respiratory difficulties from the smoke, ash, and dust kicked up by gusting Santa Ana winds.  Direct Relief also is providing personal care items for use by evacuees.

Direct Relief has been in direct contact with more than 50 regional safety-net clinics since Sunday and is coordinating response efforts with clinic staff, regional clinic associations, the statewide California Primary Care Association, the University of California, and county and state emergency response and medical officials.

The six clinics supplied today with specifically requested medical items are:

  • Imperial Beach Health Center, Imperial Beach
  • Neighborhood Health Care, Escondido
  • OCRM/Orange County Rescue Mission, Santa Ana
  • San Ysidro Health Center, San Ysidro
  • San Diego Mid-City Clinic, San Diego
  • Vista Community Clinic, Vista
  • Nma Comprehensive Health Center, San Diego

CVS recently donated N-95 particulate masks to Direct Relief, and approximately 80,000 masks will be delivered tomorrow to San Diego Fire and Rescue which requested the masks and is helping to coordinate efforts in San Diego County.

Direct Relief also is drawing upon 25,000 inhalers in its inventory to respond to specific requests by medical staff at regional health facilities.  Schering-Plough donated the inhalers to Direct Relief.

Partner clinics are reporting an increased need for products to treat patients experiencing breathing complications.  They also report concerns about patients on prescription medicines for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, who may have been forced to evacuate without their medicines or prescriptions.

“Our experience in emergency situations, including after Katrina, is that safety-net clinics serve a key role in caring for displaced people, particularly those who are low-income and vulnerable,” said Damon Taugher, Direct Relief’s Director of Domestic Initiatives. “We were fortunate to have available strong inventories of particulate masks and inhalers, thanks to recent substantial donations of those products from CVS and Schering-Plough.”

The 11 shipments furnished by Direct Relief in the past two days have a wholesale value of $191,724.

As has been the policy of the organization with recent emergency response efforts, any financial assistance Direct Relief receives that is designated for the California fires will be used exclusively for programmatic costs associated with supporting clinics’ efforts to care for patients and displaced individuals and families.

Direct Relief pays all its organization’s overhead costs of administration and fundraising from a bequest received in 2006.

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