Interior Health is starting the processing of bringing home care home residents, acute care patients and community health clients who were evacuated due to the wildfires.
Some 826 people were relocated from seven communities -West Kelowna, Merritt, Vernon, Barriere, 100 Mile House, Armstrong, and Lillooet - to sites in Interior Health, Northern Health, Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, and Providence Health Care.
“Health care teams across the province have done monumental work planning and coordinating the evacuations of some of our most vulnerable people. Many care home residents have complex care needs and proactive decisions are required to ensure their safety, continuity of care, and sufficient time is allotted to move people out of harm’s way who often require 24/7 care,” Interior Health president and CEO Susan Brown said in a media release.
“Thankfully, wildfire activity is beginning to stabilize and we are able to start the process of safely bringing our residents home to their families and loved ones.”
Brown thanked Interior Health staff members who helped in the evacuation as well as the facilities that received the people who were relocated during “this extraordinary wildfire season. Interior Health also appreciates the support of local municipalities, regional districts, the BC Wildfire Service, and other partners, she said.
“Now we are turning our attention to bringing people home gradually and ensuring appropriate staffing and resources are in place for their arrival,” she said.
She added planning the move is a complex process that involves cleaning closed facilities, coordinating transportation throughout the province, and ensuring staff and equipment are in place to welcome residents returning home.
“Being evacuated can be frightening and upsetting for many people and we want everyone to know how grateful we are for people’s patience and understanding over the past few months. We make the best decisions possible with the information we have to ensure these vulnerable individuals are safe – with an abundance of caution foremost in our planning,” added Brown.
Families will be notified directly as their loved ones are moved back. Anyone wishing to confirm their loved one’s evacuated location can call: 1.877.442.2001.