How hospitals in Southern California are helping patients affected by wildfires

Hospitals across Southern California have deployed several resources and services to help those affected by multiple wildfires currently raging across the state, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Los Angeles Daily News estimates roughly 159,000 acres of land have been burned by six main fires. The fires have destroyed approximately 535 homes and other structures, and killed at least one individual. Officials said more than 6,700 firefighters have been deployed to contain the flames.

Here are six things to know about how hospitals are helping people affected by fires.

1. Mission Hills, Calif.-based Providence Holy Cross Medical Center treated 25 patients Dec. 5 for smoke-related health issues, a spokesperson from the hospital told the Los Angeles Times. The hospital also set up a hotline last week to address people's concerns.

2. A spokesperson for Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, Calif., told the Los Angeles Times via email the hospital "closed all of [its] exits except for [the] main entrance and entrance to the emergency department," and "added fans at those entrances to discourage outside air from traveling inside."

3. Adventist Health Simi Valley (Calif.) deployed a command center Dec. 5 and has kept the center open throughout the week in the event the wildfires damage the hospital, a spokesperson for the hospital told the Los Angeles Times.

4. Santa Paula (Calif.) Hospital — which is located "miles" away from the starting point of one of the six main fires — and Ventura (Calif.) County Medical Center were forced to rely on backup generator power after the facilities suffered multiple blackouts Dec. 5, the Los Angeles Times states.

5. Valley Presbyterian is also offering face masks to employees, patients and visitors to limit the amount of pollutants they inhale. Some health officials contend microscopic particles in smoke can penetrate the lungs and cause issues for those with heart or lung conditions such as emphysema or COPD, according to the report.

6. However, some health officials claim not all filtering masks are created equal. The types of masks worn by healthcare professionals to keep out germs are reportedly ineffective at protecting against smoke, USA Today reports. Instead, people should search for the types of filtering masks typically found in the painting or woodworking supplies sections of hardware stores.

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