In response to the unprecedented public safety power shut-offs and concurrent fires in California, Direct Relief has committed an initial $1 million in cash, stepped up emergency deliveries of essential health supplies, and made its extensive medical inventories available to community health centers and charitable community clinics throughout the state.
A Direct Relief survey this month revealed that only 44% of California’s community health centers have a back-up energy source available when the electricity grid fails. Even clinics that had back-up generators found the generators didn’t provide enough power to operate all their systems, forcing operational triage.
Both wildfires and blackouts can be calamitous for public health. While wildfires exacerbate respiratory conditions and other ailments, and interrupt the continuum of care needed to manage chronic diseases, blackouts threaten to force many health care providers to close their doors, jeopardize expensive medications that require refrigeration, and can even prove fatal for people dependent on electrically powered medical devices.
“Modern health care is built on the presumption of steady power from the electricity grid,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe.
The $1 million in funding from Direct Relief will be used to bolster California’s extensive network of community health centers, which play a critical role in providing access to quality health services for seven million Californians who are among the state’s most vulnerable, especially during emergencies.
Specifically, the funds will support purchases of needed medicines and medical supplies, provide backup power to avoid losses of vaccines, insulin, and other medications that require constant cold storage, and for other emergency financial assistance for affected clinics.
Direct Relief works closely with the state of California as a member of the state’s Business Operations Center, managed by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and with county public health departments to mobilize and deploy charitable medications and supplies during emergencies.