After the Camp Fire, Bringing Health Care Outside Clinic Walls

The Camp Fire devastated the town of Paradise, California, last fall, and damaged or closed health facilities, including a local hospital. One group is working to care for patients, where they are.

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Nine months after the Camp Fire damaged or destroyed most of the medical facilities serving residents in and near the town of Paradise, including the Feather River Hospital, survivors of the fire have few options for health care.

Direct Relief is helping a group of former Feather River Hospital workers and other healthcare workers establish a free mobile clinic for serving area residents. The health workers, who have been providing care as volunteers since the second day of the Camp Fire, have formed the nonprofit Medspire Health to bring healthcare services to Magalia and surrounding areas. In addition to hosting on-site clinics, they’re looking to acquire and equip a mobile clinic to expand their services.

In the interim as the grant is being evaluated, Direct Relief provided a $50,000 grant to equip the group for providing free clinic days at temporary facilities.

The fire evacuees that Medspire’s volunteer doctors and nurses serve were deeply challenged even before the fire. Among 240 patients served at a pop-up disaster clinic shortly after the fire, all identified as low income, 60% suffered chronic illness, 35% were diagnosed with a mental health condition, over 30% were uninsured and 40% noted that they were without regular medical care, Medspire reported in its grant application. “These were people who started with very little, whose lives were something of a carefully constructed house of cards, and now had nothing,” Medspire said.

The Medspire funding is a small piece of the extensive aid Direct Relief has provided to help fire victims and prepare local communities for the next big fire, detailed here.

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Medspire Health staff mobilize a temporary clinic in Magalia, California. The group is working to reach patients that may no longer have reliable access to health care after the Camp Fire. (Photo courtesy of Medspire Health)

Medspire Health staff mobilize a temporary clinic in Magalia, California. The group is working to reach patients that may no longer have reliable access to health care after the Camp Fire. (Photo courtesy of Medspire Health)

Medspire Health staff check in patients at a temporary clinic in Butte County, California, where a fire ravaged the town of Paradise last November. Much of the town's health system was destroyed or closed in the fire. Medspire Health is working to bring healthcare to the community by hosting pop-up clinics where patients can access primary care, mental health and social services. (Photo courtesy of Medspire Health)

Medspire Health staff check in patients at a temporary clinic in Butte County, California, where a fire ravaged the town of Paradise last November. Much of the town's health system was destroyed or closed in the fire. Medspire Health is working to bring healthcare to the community by hosting pop-up clinics where patients can access primary care, mental health and social services. (Photo courtesy of Medspire Health)

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