Emergency Response Coordinator Brett Williams and Director of Domestic Initiatives Damon Taugher today delivered particulate masks, wheelchairs, eye wash, inhalers, and other specifically requested supplies to evacuation sites and clinics in San Diego County and to the San Diego Fire and Rescue command site. They shared the following brief report early this evening.
“The fires remain severe, causing massive evacuations, tremendous property loss, and economic disruption. The good news, such as it is, is that the immediate medical needs at shelters appear well met, and first responders are doing a tremendous job and making progress, assisted by slightly more cooperative weather. Qualcomm Stadium, the main evacuation shelter in San Diego, has approximately 10,000 evacuees today, a significant increase from the previous day. The situation appeared very well managed, with plenty of food, water, and blankets. The attitude was positive, but all the evacuees are hoping to return to their homes as soon as possible. We also delivered supplies that had been requested at smaller shelters, including the Poway Evacuation Center and the Del Mar Race Track Fairgrounds, and clinics including the San Ysidro Health Center. They all reported increased loads of evacuees, but none so large as to be unmanageable at this stage. We spent time with regional clinic staff, and they shared concerns about the fallout on clinics due to increased numbers of patients, increased use of supplies, and generally increased expenses that were not anticipated. These added costs, combined in some cases with a loss of income from closures or evacuations, will present some financial challenge as the crisis subsides. The concern, since these clinics operate on roughly a one percent margin, is that the key safety-net role they play for uninsured people may be compromised as time passes.”
Direct Relief has arranged another eight shipments of supplies tomorrow in response to requests from San Diego-region clinics and health facilities. We will continue to assess the evolving needs and work with corporate donors, several of which have offered assistance, to respond to specific requests that emerge.
Direct Relief has received some financial contributions designated for the fire relief effort and plans to use these funds to make cash grants to community clinics, health centers, and other health-service organizations in the affected region to ensure they are able to maintain their service levels for low-income, uninsured patients.