The West Coast wildfires are currently burning millions of acres throughout California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, spreading smoke as far as Europe and causing widespread disruption throughout the country. With more than 30 reported deaths so far and hundreds of homes lost to the fires, the fires are showing no mercy. Not only are countless individuals and families facing displacement and grappling with the loss of their homes, but the wildfires are also creating problems for senior living providers. 

Over the last several weeks, we’ve discussed how the pandemic is impacting assisted living facilities, but California’s 10,000+ long-term care facilities are now faced with a new challenge: protecting these facilities and residents in the path of the fires. According to a recent news report, 35 percent of assisted living facilities in California are in danger of the growing wildfires. As ash continues to fall from the sky, creating apocalyptic conditions in an already dystopic world, West Coast senior living providers are scrambling. 

Fires Leading to Evacuations 

Numerous assisted living communities throughout California and Oregon, specifically, are feeling the ramifications of the unprecedented wildfires. Hospitals and nursing homes already strained from COVID-19 are being forced to evacuate patients and residents as the fires are posing imminent dangers and threatening the health of these individuals. Furthermore, as if the respiratory problems linked to COVID-19 weren’t difficult enough to navigate, now operators are dealing with smoke-related respiratory concerns. 

Air Quality Causing Problems for Assisted Living Communities 

Air quality is one of the biggest worries – for the elderly and young and healthy alike. Members of the California Assisted Living Association (CALA) has vocalized their concerns for residents exposed the unhealthy air conditions, encouraging operators to keep residents inside and limit physical activity. Furthermore, the Oregon Health Care Association (OHCA) reports that at least 60 long-term care facilities have been forced to evacuate and one was lost to the fires. These associations are working alongside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asking for assistance to help mitigate hazardous air quality conditions, with some installing “air scrubbers” in an effort to protect residents from the harmful smoke. 

Senior living providers have had to pivot and find ways to protect residents and communities from the spread of the novel coronavirus, and now they are also faced with challenges from the wildfires. To learn more about the current state of the senior housing industry in California, please do not hesitate to contact Sherman and Roylance Real Estate Investment Services.