Camp Fire Shelter Relief
$31,395 of $20,000 goal
This campaign is on behalf of the Gundersen family, who is providing medical care to their own community even though they lost everything in the Northern California Camp Fire .
Above: Kat, Elisabeth, Whitney, Denise, and Birgitte
The Gundersen family is full of bad ass women who are nurses from Paradise and Magalia, CA. Denise is waiting on news about her home, and it is confirmed that her daughter, Birgitte lost her home in the fire. Despite this horrible situation, this family did not hesitate to volunteer their medical services at the community shelter. They have selflessly provided care for over 192 people so far.
Above: Denise and the care team
While this is a developing emergency, they could use your immediate donations to provide care for displaced Butte County residents. The current population of the shelters are primarily elderly, disabled, and low income people. We are directly supporting this demographic.
Above: Nurse Lonnie (Birgitte's husband) and Whitney
Your donations will help cover costs for medications, crucial medical supplies & devices, and additional necessities during these efforts. Additionally, because most of the people being treated are going to need to be here for at least another month, we are planning to use the donations to get safer and warmer structures for them. There isn't enough room inside for everyone, so many are sleeping outside in tents.
Above: The East Ave clinic started with 4 people, 3 nurses and a medic, they are now a growing team
My name is Brevin and I'm setting this GoFundMe page up on behalf the amazing Gundersen family who have supported me over the past decade. Elisabeth was my nurse, I was at Birgitte's wedding, and have frequently visited the beautiful towns of Paradise and Magalia.
Thank you for your immediate support!
11/30/2018: A few new pictures at the shelter! The triage trailer, trying to sleep in the pastor's office, and a group photo!
Now nearly 4 months after the Camp Fire, I wanted to provide you with some updates about what we are continuing to do as part of the relief efforts and to serve the communities of Paradise and Magalia as they begin to heal and rebuild.
We had money left over in our GoFundMe account thanks to your incredibly generous response (about $21,000 remained after all the needs of the evacuation clinic were fulfilled). During the closing days of the shelter, a small team of us came together and began discussing starting a free mobile clinic to serve anyone affected by the fire. As you may know, only very limited medical resources remain in the fire devastated areas; there is no hospital, no emergency room, only one ambulance to serve the entire area, no specialty clinics, and only one primary care office that has a waiting list extending many months out to see patients.
I’m incredibly excited to tell you that your donations have propelled us forward and enabled us to form a mobile free clinic team!! We applied for a grant to purchase two mobile medical units—self-contained “clinics in a can”… like a solar powered doctor’s office in a shipping container! These units can be plopped down just about anywhere (no need for electrical hook up) and have been used with great success in poor countries around the world. The first time they were ever used in the US was in Santa Rosa after the fires and we will be the second medical group to use them in the United States. We hope to start seeing patients within the next two months. I wanted to thank you once again and say how humbled I was by your outpouring of love and support to my community. You are the reason we can move forward with this plan to continue to serve and you are part of the healing and rebuilding process ♥️
With deepest gratitude,
Elisabeth and the Medspire (our clinic name) team!!
More updates to come when we open
As we move into the third week of evacuation I wanted to bring you some updates from our East Avenue Clinic and Shelter!
(all photos below used with permission)
First of all thank you once again for your donations We continue to be a non Red Cross shelter run entirely by volunteers. Your funds have enabled us to serve so many of the neediest evacuees at a time when state and local officials were inundated with requests for help.
We started with over 200 evacuees and now are caring for around 130. Most of those who remain with us face complex social or financial situations that make finding even temporary housing difficult. Deb (pictured below), our amazing volunteer social worker with a list of over 100 patients has worked tirelessly to find placement for folks as well as to help evacuees access the resources that are available to them to find and pay for housing. FEMA has been on site every day registering anyone who is eligible. The plan for relocation is TBD; most of Paradise remains uninhabitable and especially now with the rains is not safe for FEMA trailers. We are working with local, state and federal officials to find the best housing situations possible for all our evacuees.
We have used a portion of your donated funds to pay for relocation for those evacuees who have family in other states and cities; bus tickets and rides etc. Airlines thus far haven’t been willing to waive pet fees for evacuees traveling with animals, and thanks to you, we’ve been able to help offset those costs!!
Your donations paid for a generator for a medical triage trailer so we can better serve patients needing more thorough evaluation and medical care!
Other exciting (and good) news - a young woman at our shelter gave birth to a little girl just yesterday!! She went into labor at the shelter and our team of nurses and medics monitored her blood pressure and contractions until it was time to go to the hospital. ❤️❤️ She and her family lived in a multi-generational household (great grandma on down to grand kids and lots and lots of rescue cats and dogs ) in Paradise and lost everything. We’ve allocated some of your donations to purchase necessary newborn items such as a breast pump, car seat etc. THANK YOU.
With your donations we were also able to help Jason (picture of Jason with his big smile below- such a nice and resilient guy). Jason and our team of respiratory therapists and providers have been fighting with his insurance company to replace his Bipap (breathing) machine that burned up in the fire. For those of you who don’t know, this essential medical device is EXPENSIVE (around $4000). His insurance has thus far denied a replacement and as a result of his breathing issues, Jason hasn’t been sleeping. Without this machine, Jason feels weak and sleepy and just generally miserable
With your donations, we were able to purchase a new breathing mask fitted for Jason to hook up to a loaner machine (for you RTs out there, we MacGyvered a CPAP hooked up to a humidifier with our newly purchased mask while we wait for insurance to come through!) Jason is so so appreciative.
We will now close our GoFundMe as we feel that we have the donations and resources that we need to care for the evacuees at the shelter. We are ever mindful of overextending generosity and resources.
With our deepest thanks and gratitude, ❤️
❤️ Elisabeth and the EAC Team
P.S. You can find a few more (new) pictures in the original posting including: our team trying to sleep in the Pastor’s office , our new triage trailer, and a group photo of the EAC Team.
I wanted to give you some updates about the East Avenue Shelter and Clinic: Amid the heartbreak of the discovery of more human remains in Paradise and the growing missing persons list, I bring you news of kindness and community resilience on full display at the East Avenue Clinic:
-One of our volunteers meticulously cross-referenced every name at our shelter with the recently published Chico Enterprise Record list of missing persons in Paradise and identified 12 of our shelter residents who are on the missing persons list! We immediately contacted the Chico police so that their worried friends, neighbors, and loved ones can be notified.
-We now have a full staff of volunteers serving our shelter ❤️ These are folks from the local community as well as all over California; from San Diego to Redding. We have CNAs, nurses, doctors, masseuses, social workers, psychiatrists, trauma counselors, animal lovers to look in on our many sheltered pets, dozens of volunteers from the East Avenue Church itself, scribes, medication runners... the list goes on and ON!! As soon as we published our sign-up list, shift after shift filled instantly with people thrilled to be able to help. I’ve said it before, but I am just so humbled by the goodness in people.
-We’ve been able to pay medication copays for several more of our evacuees taking expensive psychiatric medications. I’ve learned that these are much more difficult to get early refills than other medications. We are so grateful to the volunteer psychiatrist who came out to assess people in need!
-HAIRCUTS! A wonderful volunteer came out today to give beauty treatments to both ladies and gentlemen ❤️
-I know it’s not glamorous, but we’ve used some of your donations to buy a number of privacy screens and individual commodes so that we have the best chance of avoiding the spread of the dreaded Norovirus. I am happy to report that our shelter has a very low number of people sick, and thanks to you, we now have the resources to properly care for them.
-We now have a triage area where we can see and treat patients away from the general population!
I want to restate my commitment to ensuring every single penny of your generous donations goes directly to care for this vulnerable population. What is not used to purchase necessary supplies will be given to evacuees directly in cash. It has become clear over the last few days that what we are facing is a humanitarian crisis that will go on not for one week, not for two, but for months on end. Paradise has no infrastructure to rebuild at this time. Unlike with other natural disasters, where people in evacuation shelters typically begin to disburse to family and friends or temporary housing over the first 10 days or so, nearly everyone that started out with us is still there. There is simply no housing to be had in Chico and no clear plan at this writing for addressing this housing crisis. Many of the people in our care just don’t have anywhere else to go and we are honored to serve them in their time of great need.
With love and much gratitude,
Elisabeth and the entire East Avenue team
This is Elisabeth Gundersen - Birgitte is my sister, and together with my mom Denise, another nurse from Feather River Hospital Whitney, and an ED doctor Ted, we helped establish the East Avenue Clinic. With your kind support we’ve secured essential medications such as blood pressure, diabetes, and psychiatric medications for more than 100 patients. Many of our patients were either uninsured or had insurances that were refusing to fill early refills to replace those that burned in the fire. Some of these co-pays were hundreds of dollars and would have been IMPOSSIBLE for evacuees to pay for themselves. Your donations have helped prevent numerous trips to the emergency room for high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
One young gentleman was on a very expensive mood stabilizer medication that his insurance had absolutely refused to grant an early refill for. We were able to pay for a partial supply while our team of providers works on authorization through his insurance. With your donations we were able to get him through another week.
We’ve purchased necessary medical supplies such as wound care dressings, commodes, oxygen and respiratory supplies, special beds and chairs for those with limited mobility, as well as many other badly needed items.
Our commitment to you as our donors is to ensure that every single cent of your donation goes directly to purchase necessary medical items for evacuees. Any money not used in this manner will be given as a cash donation to each evacuee of our shelter, for them to use as they need. These folks started with little and now have nothing. Our only mission is to serve them in their time of great need.
Our now growing team of volunteers made up of church members, local doctors and nurses, as well as medical professionals volunteering from afar, are serving the most vulnerable evacuees with your help:
- I spoke with a gentleman yesterday who built his home himself for him and his wife of 72 years, whom he now cares for. They received confirmation that their home is gone.
- Another family, from grandmother down to her great grandchildren resides in our shelter with their two rescue cats and three rescue dogs.
- We have two beautiful ladies over the age of 90 who drove through flames to safety. They tell us they feel loved and cared for in our shelter ♥️ See them in this FOX40 video: https://fox40.com/2018/11/13/paradise-nurses-doctors-run-free-clinic-for-evacuees/
We are committed to making sure that evacuees remain with their animals at all times; there is no separation between people and their fur family. We believe that fur families are essential during times of disaster and tragedy.
I can’t adequately express my gratitude to you for your donations. I’ve learned through this that people are good, the world is a place full of those who want to help and DO SOMETHING... Know that you are doing something and that our evacuees and our entire team of volunteers are deeply grateful and humbled by your kindness and the outpouring of love and support.
-Elisabeth and the entire East Avenue Clinic Team ♥️