California Camp Fire 100% contained, but problems persist for those with chronic conditions

The California Camp Fire was contained by firefighters Nov. 25 after raging for 17 days, but evacuees 65 years and older will continue to face complications due to chronic health conditions exacerbated by the fire and medical supply shortages, according to The New York Times.

Here are six things to know:

1. A large portion of the tens of thousands of structures burned in Paradise, Calif., were nursing homes, assisted living facilities, geriatric care centers and mobile home parks for retirees. About 2,300 residents in the fire zone relied on in-home health aides.

2. The emergency evacuation shelters can be dangerous to older citizens with health conditions. In these close quarters, infections can spread fast, targeting an already vulnerable population. About 150 evacuees were taken to the hospital for norovirus Nov. 21 after an outbreak hit a shelter. It is not specified how many of those evacuees were elderly.

"There were a lot of people who were barely able to make it at home, and those are the people that tend in situations like this to make their way to the shelters," Andy Miller, MD, public health officer for Butte County told The New York Times.

3. Once older evacuees reach shelters, they face obstacles like being unable to take their medication or not having access to necessary medical devices.

4. Older patients with memory retention issues or the early stages of dementia have experienced chronic stress from the evacuation that may only make their conditions worse.

"Half of them don’t have it in them to start all over again," Mari Stewart, the nursing supervisor for the clinic at the East Avenue Church in Chico, told The New York Times.

5. Physicians, nurses and volunteers at emergency shelters attempted to locate older evacuees' primary care physicians, many of whom were displaced themselves due to the fire. They also had difficulty obtaining missing medical records to replace the older patients' medical information.

6. The California Camp Fire burned more than 153,000 acres and 18,000 structures, about 14,000 of which were residences. Eighty-five people have died, while thousands more are missing.

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