Camp Fire disrupts tele-psychiatric services based out of the Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Not only did last month's deadly Camp Fire in Paradise destroy thousands of homes it destroyed medical services to hundreds of people.

The Far Northern Regional Center burned to the ground but most of the services come from Kings View Behavioral Health Systems in Fresno.

"Because that is a pretty tight specialty with being able to find someone that's comfortable with that population and able to medicate and provide services for that population," said Dr. Herbert Cruz.

He is the only Psychiatry Specialist for the Northern California facility who treats patients mainly with autism and developmental disabilities.

Dr. Cruz is able to provide Tele-Psychiatric services through video conferencing but that was disconnected by the Camp Fire.

Medical and Pharmacy records were also destroyed but copies are kept in Fresno.

"Fortunately we were able to have access to that and maintain it prior to the fires. So we have what everyone is on and we have been delivering services to them for 15 years. So we know the medications everyone is on and what everyone needs," said Dr. Cruz.

In the last few weeks his staff has moved some services to a temporary location in Chico and sent new equipment to continue video conferencing.

They were able to reconnect with patients in the Paradise area through individual and family phone numbers.

Dr. Cruz says most of his patients have also lost their homes.

"It has been a tremendous challenge and that's for me from the outside looking in and so you know my heart pours out and as does Kings View to the ones that are the recipients," he said.

Members of Dr. Cruz' staff will travel to Williams, near Chico, next week to look for temporary and possibly new locations for the Far Northern Regional Center.
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