WCHC Santa Rosa Fire UPDATE:
West County Health Centers is OPEN for regular business hours at all sites in Sebastopol, Forestville, Guerneville, and Occidental. Please call your regular health center number to schedule an appointment or discuss any urgent health care needs. Please click here for Northern California Fire Resources and Updates.
updated 1:08pm Wednesday, October 18, 2017
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Recent Press Coverage
Resiliency is defined as the ability to overcome and bounce back from challenges of all kinds- traumatic events, tragedy, loss, personal crises and regular life problems.
The October North Bay fires and their aftermath present many challenges to the residents of Sonoma County, including how to be resilient in the face of so much widespread devastation.
Private health networks, like West County Health Centers, have also seen an increase in cases of depression and anxiety and other chronic illnesses, officials said. The issues have been exacerbated by how far from normal many victims lives have veered. Many have seen their churches, jobs, and children's school - thier daily rhythms - disrupted.
"People are more susceptible to trauma because they don't have their normal community support," said Jason Dunningham, medical director of West County Health Centers, which provides services from several locations. "Initially we had this community coming together, and it was actually life-giving. They were supporting one another. We aren't putting the same attention on those feelings as we did the first two weeks."
Cunningham said his staff compared state maps of fire damage to maps of where existing patients live, in order to locate high-risk victims who might need extra support. Health workers called those people in the weeks after the fires to check in and offer resources, everything from help with FEMA applications to therapy referrals.
"We know these people," Cunningham said. "We want to hear how they're doing and hear their story. It's a familiar voice to connect with. That social support is important so they don't try to self-medicate with things like alcohol."
It’s important to check in with kids even if they’re not asking questions, said Marian Pena, the behavioral health director at West County Health Centers in Sonoma County, where recent fires destroyed thousands of homes and killed more than 20 people. Some children will develop anxiety because they’re stressed and don’t have an outlet for that stress.
“A lot of parents feel like if they don’t ever talk to their kids about this, it’s out of sight out of mind,” she said.
But that’s not true. Children are thinking about what’s happening around them, whether or not they ask their parents about it. And it’s important for parents to provide the most accurate information, and reassure children that they are safe.