Wildfires threaten California's inpatient capacity: Study

More than half of California's inpatient beds are located within less than a mile of high fire danger areas, a new study revealed.

The state has faced relentless wildfire seasons for years that have in many instances led to interruptions in patient care. Researchers found that 95 percent — 203,665 beds — are located within 3.7 miles of high fire threat zones and that 107,290 beds are within 0.87 miles of one.

The authors of the research mapped locations of California inpatient beds in relation to charted high fire threat zones as determined by the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in an effort to understand the threat relationship between the two. 

"Wildfires threaten a large number of inpatient health care facilities in California," the researchers wrote. "In many counties, all healthcare facilities may be at risk."

The data, they explained, points to a need for improved policies to improve "facility-level preparedness" and "regional evacuation needs, including access to emergency medical services and patient transportation."

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