Clearlake Oaks >> Worldwide Healing Hands (WHH) held a free health screening at the Moose Lodge on Sept. 19 where dozens of Valley Fire evacuees received care.
Two WHH homeless clinics had been canceled due to the string of fires Lake County has recently seen. The second was scheduled to take place on Sept. 19, but after the Valley Fire’s explosive eruption, nearly 30 WHH volunteers came together with only 24 hours notice, including three physician, eight nurses and four counselors to instead serve displaced residents at the Moose Lodge shelter. They were also joined by five nurses from the Ukiah Valley Medical Center and another from Sacramento.
“It was so heart warming to get people to help,” WHH founder Dr. Paula Dhanda said. “A lot of them did not know each other, but really came together as a team for common goal.”
Evacuees received counseling, on-site health care such as blood pressure checks by nurses and met with physicians Dhanda, St. Helena, Clear Lake Chief of Staff Dr. John Weeks and Dr. Kirk Andrus of the Veterans Affairs Hospital.
“Students were very active in organizing our supplies and helped the volunteers for the Moose Lodge sort pantry items,” Dhanda said. “This was an enlightening experience for these students who are interested in the health care field. They also got to assist the nurses and physicians.”
Dhanda said many evacuees were left without their medication and had no way of seeing their doctors. One of those was a 13-year-old boy with asthma, who was not able to get his inhaler before escaping his home.
“It showed us how quickly they had to leave,” Dhanda said. Fortunately she was able to provide the boy with the inhaler he needed.
Her nonprofit organization has taken medical missions around the world and provided relief after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
While standards of living and health care vary drastically between the United States and the developing country, Dhanda found that disasters victims responded similarly.
“It felt like people in these situations don’t have a lot of expectations,” Dhanda said. “They were grateful for what they could get.”
The WHH team is now in the process of putting together a second clinic at the Moose Lodge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
This time, nurses will be equipped with a tote to make rounds at the camp site and asses needs, Dhanda said.
At the previous clinic, some evacuees where in such poor conditions they were unable to even leave their tents.
Dhanda recalled a diabetic woman with a foot ulcer who was having a hard time keeping it clean as she stayed in a tent outside of the lodge. Nurses were able to treat it and give her skin cleansers.
Interested volunteers should call (707) 279-8733 or visit http://worldwidehealinghands.org/volunteer/ to sign up.
By Berenice Quirino, Lake County Record-Bee
Photos by Berenice Quirino — Lake County Publishing
Published in the Lake County Record Bee: Nonprofit helps with healing