I can only imagine the crushing grief one must face after their home and every worldly possession is reduced to ashes. But what if your house and workplace both burned down in one fell swoop?
That’s been the case for dozens of individuals employed by the Cypress Meadows Post-Acute facility, once located in Paradise, CA. The nursing home was consumed by flames from one of the deadliest wildfires in California history last week, and on Monday, officials confirmed that it had burned to the ground.
Parent company Plum Healthcare estimates that about 80% of employees at Cypress Meadows have lost their homes, in addition to their workplace. But during the heat of the blaze, those employees were much more concerned with getting the facility’s 92 residents to safety, Aaron Edmonds, area president for Plum, told me. They navigated through walls of flames and embers crashing down on their vehicles to get residents safely down to Chico, CA.
“Our administrator and the DON and staff, I don’t think they slept for 40 to 50 hours,” Edmonds said. “They couldn’t sleep until they were sure that all of our patients were safe and the work was done.”
Edmonds said all residents got out safely and are accounted for, after caregivers in Chico triaged them to other providers. Now, he said Plum was looking for somewhere to put its employees back to work and help them land on their feet, whether it’s at one of the company’s other 56 SNFs, or with a different provider. Without homes, many have been forced to stay in shelters or with friends or family. Plum wants to find a way to thank employees and get them back to caring for the residents that are so important to them.
“They’re the heroes in this,” Edmonds said. “They put themselves in danger and put their lives on the line to help people who couldn’t help themselves. The building is one thing. OK, so that’s gone. That’s what insurance is for. But these people put their lives on the line and at the same time, they were losing everything that they owned. Now they have nothing.”
To help those individuals left with so little, Plum and the California Association of Health Facilities have launched a GoFundMe page, which had raised nearly $14,000 toward its goal of $25,000 as of Monday night.
“It can’t replace everything, but it’s a small way to help them get back on their feet as best they can,” Edmonds said.
I would encourage you to share a few dollars (or more) with these folks, and to think of Cypress Meadows the next time you’re having a tough day at your own facility, and still have a residence to go home to.
Follow Staff Writer Marty Stempniak @MStempniak.