Kaiser Permanente therapists and behavioral health professionals are encouraged to volunteer to help victims of the Camp Fire in Butte County. The community will be in need of help for the long term.
This message was sent on behalf of Janet Liang, President, Northern California Region, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, and Richard Isaacs, MD, FACS, CEO and Executive Director, The Permanente Medical Group.
Northern California wildfire tragedy has become all too frequent in recent years and this month reflects that new reality. The Camp Fire, which started in Butte County on Nov. 8, is the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in California history. The tragic toll in terms of lives lost, homes and businesses destroyed, and people displaced will be felt for some time to come. At least 81 people have lost their lives, nearly 700 are still reported missing, and 11,000 homes have been destroyed. Our hearts go out to all those affected, many of whom are vulnerable seniors now living in difficult circumstances.
The weather has already turned colder and the need for shelter, heat, food, and clothing is urgent. The needs of people in Butte County will continue to grow as they work to rebuild their lives. As care providers, we also know that emotional and social support for survivors is critically important to help victims recover.
While Kaiser Permanente has a limited membership base and, therefore, no operations in Butte County, we all feel compelled to help. Given our size and expertise, we are uniquely positioned to fulfill our commitment to the health of communities everywhere, and to the people of Butte County who are our neighbors and a part of our larger Northern California community.
If You Are Personally Affected
If you are an employee or physician who is personally affected by the Camp Fire, you may be eligible for financial or other assistance. Please contact your Human Resources leader for more information.
Our Commitment to Help
Many of you have asked what Kaiser Permanente is doing and how you can assist. We are working with local, state, and federal agencies to identify immediate needs and to assess the longer-term need as more information emerges. Here are some immediate actions we are taking:
- We have committed up to $1 million for disaster relief and recovery, which includes funding for the American Red Cross to help it financially support the many community-based and faith-based organizations that are helping survivors recover their lives and livelihoods.
- Our Kaiser Permanente Northern California Regional Emergency Management Team has been on the ground in Butte County assessing needs, volunteering in local evacuation shelters, and beginning the coordination of our larger Kaiser Permanente Northern California volunteer response (details below). This team has training and experience in disaster relief and is prepared for this demanding work.
- We also recognize that many people are and will be experiencing emotional trauma and fatigue, including volunteers and medical providers who will be working in this environment for weeks and months to come, so we are working with agencies to line up mental health care workers to help.
Volunteer and Giving Opportunities
All Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians can volunteer or donate to help address the grave medical and non-medical needs in Butte County. We are looking for volunteers, including primary care physicians, nurses, medical assistants, social workers, mental health therapists, care coordinators, and employees who are willing to provide social support such as serving food, sorting supplies, and cleaning.
Please know that conditions in the evacuation shelters can be difficult, the air quality remains poor and can exacerbate asthma or other medical conditions. Volunteers’ skills must match our coordinating agency’s needs, and lodging, while provided, is basic. Additionally, your supervisor’s or chief’s approval is required, and a commitment of several weeks may be requested. Pre-approved volunteers scheduled by designated coordinating agencies will receive compensation.
- Medical Volunteers: If you wish to volunteer and are a medical professional, please go to this KPCares page to register. Please provide as much information as possible about your first available date and special skills. You will be contacted over the coming days and weeks in response to the most immediate need for medical teams, and other needs as they are more fully identified.
- Non-Medical Volunteers: Anyone can volunteer by going to this KPCares page.
- You may also donate to agencies supporting the Butte County fires though KPGives, our workplace giving portal.
During this time of giving thanks, we are grateful to be leading an organization that lives its mission, and to be working with all of you who are committed to responding compassionately to those in need. As we gather with family and friends this week, or do the important work of providing care to our patients over the holiday, may we all take some time to express our gratitude and to look for ways to make a difference in the lives of those around us.