Hospital employees show up to work after nearly 70 lose homes in Carr Fire

Handwritten note written to the staff at Dignity Health North State in Redding, Calif. where 67 employees and volunteers have lost their homes. Photo: Mike Mangas (left). Carr Fire (right). 

More than 1,000 people have lost their homes in the devastating Carr Fire burning in Shasta County – and that includes at least  67 doctors, nurses, volunteers, clerks and custodians at one hospital 200 miles north of San Francisco.

“It’s affected everybody,” Dignity Health North State spokesman Mike Mangas said of the fire, which has been burning since July 23 and also has killed six people in Redding, Calif.

And still, the employees have showed up to work. “Some people literally have been sleeping on the floor,” he said. “People have shown up to work. Patient care has not suffered.”

Mangas added that employees technically could take a paid day off if they’ve built up the time, but most people haven’t. “It’s not a sense of duty,” he said, “but it’s a real desire to take care of the patients.”

Dr. Edward Zawada lost his home but showed up to take care of his patients anyway, which is not surprising to Ashlie Victoria, who described him on Facebook as one of the most caring doctors in Shasta County.  

Nurse Michele Woods told BuzzFeed News: “It’s numbing. You can’t put words on it right now. It’s important to get back to as normal as you can and for me, that’s showing up here every day.”

Mangas said that HR is collecting information about all its staff, and making sure everyone is accounted for. Some employees are staying in the medical center's Hospitality House, which has six rooms, and is usually reserved for families with sick patients. Other employees are looking for rentals, but that’s a challenge. “Housing was always tight but it’s especially tight now,” Managas said. 

As for the patients, Mangas said that doctors are seeing an increase patients complaining of breathing difficulties and people who have been displaced are running out of medication. 

Mangas has not only noted the dedication of the hospital staff. He’s noted the generosity of the wider community. For instance, Ryan McClanahan, who works in San Bernardino, offered to come work in the lab if needed. And restaurants from the Olive Garden to donut shops have stopped by delivering food.

“There’s been such an outpouring,” he said. “This has really been a bonding experience.”