SCAN Health Plan Offers Tips to Older Adults Impacted by Wildfires

Date Posted: 08/24/2016


(LONG BEACH, CALIF. – August 24, 2016) — With wildfires impacting communities across the state, SCAN Health Plan is encouraging seniors in and around fire zones to take safety precautions to reduce their risk of smoke-related health issues.

“Older adults can be particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of smoke, especially those seniors with chronic heart and lung diseases,” said Romilla Batra, M.D., chief medical executive at SCAN. “While it might be emotionally difficult to do so, if at all possible it is better to leave your home and stay with friends or relatives in a town away from danger as smoke can be very damaging to the respiratory system.”

To help decrease health risks from wildfire smoke, Dr. Batra suggests that seniors adhere to these steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• Keep indoor air as clean as possible by keeping windows and doors closed.

• Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.

• If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter in a designated evacuation center or away from the affected area.

• Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution, such as vacuuming and smoking.

• Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper masks commonly found at hardware stores will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke.

“As with an emergency of any kind, it is important to be prepared and to follow any orders given by the authorities,” added Dr. Batra. In addition to the inherent health risks, emergency situations often make it more difficult for seniors to get the supplies or medication they need, including trips to the pharmacy and keeping important doctors’ appointments. To address this concern, SCAN Health Plan has been placing calls to members who reside in or around fire zones and is also encouraging members who need assistance accessing care to contact its Member Services team at 1-800-559-3500 (TTY is 711) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SCAN Health Plan is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plans with nearly 170,000 members in California. In addition to Medicare Advantage, SCAN Health Plan also offers Special Needs Plans, including coverage for those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medi-Cal or those who have special chronic healthcare needs. For more information visit,, or follow us on twitter @scanhealthplan. 


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