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Rebuilding Paradise: Finding health care after wildfire destruction


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The New York Times
SOURCE: https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/02/paradise-california-wildfire-health-care-1349430
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Summary

— This Northern California town, decimated by wildfires, is trying to rebuild a health care system in a place that no longer exists for a future that’s impossible to predict.Paradise is little more than a large charred debris removal site — and it lost its hospital, several clinics, its nursing homes, its doctors in the fire last year. If it works, Paradise could become a template for how to deliver health care to rural America, not just those communities hit by disaster, but areas that have seen hospitals close and the numbers of doctors dwindle.“They have the really unique perspective right now to create something based on need that can grow in the community as it looks toward the future,” said Brock Slabach, senior vice president with the National Rural Health Association.A $19 billion federal disaster assistance bill, long delayed in Congress because of disputes between President Trump and the Democrats, may finally be approved in the coming week. Patients have fled to makeshift homes with friends or relatives, uncertain whether to return.The rebuilding task for the city is monumental, and health care has to be at its heart.“I don’t think there is a similar instance in the United States where a community has been essentially completely destroyed and had to rebuild,” said Richard Thorp, a physician and president of the Paradise Medical Group, which served about 10,000 patients at three clinics in what was once a serene rural community.Paradise has one of the worst cleanup jobs since 9/11, but signs of recovery are starting to appear. If the hospital rebuilds, it will undoubtedly do so with a smaller footprint, one that reflects the overall trend of shifting care to outpatient settings.Dustin Corcoran, CEO of the California Medical Association, said Paradise’s rebuild from the ground up offers it the opportunity to be the “most technologically advanced, the most forward-facing medical group in the entire state of California.”The medical group already had a strong technological foothold; a new cloud-based EHR system retained the last three years of patient records, and the group’s quick-thinking technology manager managed to save the hard drives containing earlier patient history from a basement before the clinic burned to the ground. But now they have the technological capacity and that's quite an asset to the community as it rebuilds."“As we restore Paradise, the medical group and its services, it probably won’t be the same as it was before,” said Bradford Ogden, 65 and a longtime resident and patient.

As said here by VICTORIA COLLIVER