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California Fires Close Adventist
Hospital for 10 Days

BY BONNIE MCLEAN,
Adventist Review intern


eather River Hospital, an Adventist hospital in Paradise, California, reopened for care on Friday, July 18 after closing for 10 days due to fire east in Feather River canyon, where the hospital sits.

CLOSED FOR BUISINESS: Workers place a sign over the Feather River Hospital sign to divert patients to other care facilities.  [Photo: FRH]
As of July 6, 38 fires raged in northern California's Butte County alone, part of the 2,000 fires in California that burned 887,000 acres of land. Though fire reached the canyon containing the west branch of Feather River, it did not reach up the canyon wall to the hospital; it came within a mile of the hospital, but no further. Unlike other buildings east of the canyon, the hospital was spared from damage.

As the fire threatened, the evacuation began July 8. Fire retardant was sprayed on the hospital roof to prevent burning. Once the immediate threat was lifted July 11, six employees with disaster cleanup expertise from Adventist Health Corporate Office arrived to assist the hospital’s reopening process.

Initial inspections showed that early setup of filter devices helped keep air systems clean, reducing the required cleaning efforts. Still employees had to clean up the effects of the fire. They changed air filters, inspected and cleaned air handling systems, and cleaned hard surfaces— including walls, floors, windows, and other exterior surfaces. Also required in the reopening was the clearing of external debris, including deposits of ash in the driveways and parking lot. More than 100 staff members and contractors worked to meet the cleanup deadlines.

Additionally, staff restocked medical supplies, including pharmaceuticals and blood bank reserves, recalibrated medical equipment shut off during evacuation, and certified the equipment’s reliability. Surveyors from California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development inspected the facility on July 17 to ensure its readiness to receive patients.

The Cardiology Department relocated to the Feather River Outpatient Center on July 14 to ensure quality care for patients. The command center operated 24 hours, 7 days a week to assist patients and other physicians and medical facilities temporarily caring for patients forced out by the evacuation. The Feather River Health Center opened 24 hours as well, for primary care, but did not substitute the hospital for medical emergencies. The cancer and anti-coagulation centers reopened after inspection deemed their units safe to occupy.

SAVE THE TREES: Firefighters help a worker remove trees and other external debris from the hospital grounds.  In order to reopen, the hospital had to remove debris and ash from the fire below the canyon. [Photo: FRH ]
Upon reopening, the hospital officials thanked volunteers and community residents for their support. At the meeting U. S. Rep. Wally Herger expressed his gratitude to the hospital staff for their commitment to patients.

As operations have recommenced, Maureen Wisener, marketing and communications director, declared, “We are very grateful to be reopened and caring for our patients,” demonstrating the hospital’s dedication to the people in its facilities and the community.

Feather River Hospital is a 122-bed hospital for residents of Paradise, California and those in the Sierra foothills. The hospital serves patients with cancer, rehabilitation needs, cardiac catheterization, lymphedema, home oxygen needs, sleeping disorders, and nursing care. It has earned a bronze award from the California Council for Performance Excellence. It employs 149 physicians, 961 miscellaneous employees and support staff, and receives 291 volunteers.
 


 
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