Response to Southern California Wildfires Continues


California Wildfires

Since the outbreak of the Southern California Wildfires three weeks ago, Direct Relief has been active in emergency assistance efforts, coordinating with local clinics and health centers, state and county emergency-response agencies, and firefighters to help ensure access to any needed medicines and medical supplies.

Thus far, Direct Relief has distributed 44 relief shipments – including the distribution of over 80,000 masks to local residents and emergency personnel – all of which was specifically requested and valued at close to $900,000 (wholesale).

The first shipments to safety-net clinics experiencing increased patient volumes were sent Monday, October 22nd and will continue into November.  Initially connecting with pre-existing relationships, Direct Relief’s support widened after reports on the number of evacuees rose as high as 800,000. Direct Relief coordinated with various relief agencies serving displaced populations, including, the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services, the American Red Cross, and the YMCA.  In addition, Direct Relief connected with CalFire and San Diego Fire and Rescue to support firefighters.

Requested emergency medical material was related to health risks caused by the fires, including inhalers for people experiencing respiratory problems, as well as personal care items for evacuees and patients seeking care at the regions nonprofit clinics.

Thanks to generous individuals, groups, and corporate donors, we have received commitments for more than $350,000 in cash donations to aid these programmatic efforts.

As the fires subside, the recovery will bring its own challenges. Direct Relief’s primary concern is assisting the low-income people who typically are hit hardest by emergencies because they have the least ability to absorb the financial setbacks that result.  Direct Relief will work to ensure that the nonprofit community clinics and health centers are able to maintain services for low-income people who rely on them for care.  The clinics themselves have experienced increased work and decreased income that they have no cushion to cover.

Any cash donations will be directed to provide safety-net clinics and health centers with material and financial support to cover structural impact, unbudgeted increases in patient visits, supply usage, staff costs, and decreased revenue incurred during the emergency.

Due to a recent bequest, Direct Relief pays for all of its own overhead administrative and fundraising expenses. 100% of all donations we receive are applied only for programmatic expenses, and any funds we receive that are designated for the fires will be used only for programmatic efforts in the fire-affected region.

Because of the outpouring of generosity for this event, we again feel it’s important to explain how we view the use of restricted funds:

  • We will not use these funds to pay the salaries of any existing staff members, even those working on the fire, or any other previously budgeted expense because that is why we raise general funds.
  • We understand that restricted funds are restricted funds, and we will honor that restriction and use the money only to pay for additional expenses related to our support in the fire-affected region.

As was the case before the Fires, Direct Relief will continue to support clinics providing services to low-income uninsured patients. Below is a listing of the organizations that received support from Direct Relief.

Safety-Net Clinic Partners:

  • Mountain Health and Community Services
  • UCI Family Health Center
  • El Proyecto del Barrio
  • North County Health Services
  • San Ysidro Health Center
  • OCRM Health Care and Services
  • Neighborhood Healthcare
  • Imperial Beach Health Center
  • Vista Community Clinic
  • San Diego Family Care
  • Comprehensive Health Centers
  • Asian Pacific Health Care Venture
  • AltaMed Health Services
  • Venice Family Clinic
  • Salvation Army Free Medical Clinic
  • Share Our Selves Free Medical Clinic
  • Laguna Beach Community Clinic
  • Mid City Community Clinic Pediatrics
  • La Maestra Family Clinic
  • Family Health Centers of San Diego
  • Wilmington Community Clinic
  • Sierra Health Center


Agencies Serving Evacuees:

  • American Red Cross
  • San Diego Fire and Rescue
  • City of Poway
  • Qualcomm Evacuation Center
  • Del Mar Racetrack Evacuation Center
  • San Diego YMCA

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