Ravaged by Camp Fire, Paradise's Only Hospital Won't Reopen Until 2020

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The Feather River Hospital burns down during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, on Nov. 8, 2018. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

Outside the Neighborhood Church in Chico, staff from the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital anxiously awaited news Wednesday of what would happen to the hospital and clinics, which had some facilities significantly damaged in the deadly Camp Fire.

Staff from the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital wait on Dec. 5, 2018, to find out the future plans for the hospital and clinics damaged in the Camp Fire. (Michelle Wiley/KQED)

Brian Estebrook, a physician assistant at Adventist Health, said he's ready to get back to work.

"It's been three weeks," he said. "Three weeks too long."

During the meeting with executives, the staff got their answer. The hospital will reopen, but not until 2020.

"A hospital's not just four walls. It has a lot of infrastructure," said Adventist Health CEO Scott Reiner. "In this case, the fire really did a lot of damage to the core infrastructure. Heating, air conditioning, and then when you lose power for a certain period of time, you have other issues that can happen related to mold and so forth."

Adventist Health plans to continue paying their employees' salaries until Feb. 5 and provide health care benefits through May.

They're also trying to find job opportunities at other Adventist Health locations for the now unemployed staff members.

"We have a big footprint on the West Coast," said Reiner. "So we're trying to match specific capabilities for them in one of our hospitals."

But for some, that may require relocating to places they don't want to go.

"At this point, the full-time they have for me is in L.A.," said respiratory therapist Amanda Lindemuth-McLoughlin. "And I moved here to get away from L.A."

In the meantime, the Feather River Health Center clinic is expected to reopen in the coming weeks.

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