by Lori Harasta
Despite blazes, blackouts, and evacuations due to the Thomas fire, Livingston’s nurses, social workers, therapists and caregivers continued to keep patients safe and as comfortable as possible as they performed their clinical and custodial duties. They helped some patients evacuate, packing up precious mementos and personal items, and even drove one client to a safe haven in Carpinteria, the long way around, since Highway 33 was closed.
Forty-three patients were relocated as a result of the fire. For those moved out of the county, Livingston partnered with other agencies to care for them. Locally, be it in a church, a high school gymnasium, or other evacuation center, clinicians continued to deliver support and services. Medications for pain, nausea, and shortness of breath were administered without interruption. For those on oxygen, which is primarily reliant on electricity, Livingston was able to solicit help from a medical equipment company to provide portable oxygen tanks during power outages.
One client shared, “I’m so impressed with (Livingston CareGiver’s CNA) Manuela. During all the chaos caused by the fire, she has been a constant during an inconsistent time. With road closures and other obstacles, she has arrived on time and without distraction. We are so grateful to her and your organization. I’ve been able to get much needed rest while Manuela has been here.”
Jeannette Cunningham, RN, BSN, PHN, Livingston’s Safety Officer, observed that it was teamwork that made things go so smoothly. “It was not at all chaotic. Everyone kept calm and got the job done. At the command post, all you had to do was state a patient’s need and it was taken care of.”
According to Teresa Pavan, BSHS, RN, Vice-President/CEO of Livingston, “It really ran like a well-oiled machine. We continued to see patients no matter where they were moved. It was all about getting to the right place at the right time to deliver the right care.”
Being a safety net for the community doesn’t stop with patients and clients. Several Livingston staffers, including Pavan, distributed blankets and N95 masks to the homeless that camp in the City of Ventura.
The Thomas fire is now the largest fire in California history. Even in an immense disaster such as this, Ventura County residents can be assured Livingston will be there in their home or shelter to help them.
For information on grief support services for fire victims, call 642-0239 ext. 705.