The next few months can be a bad time for burns, keeping doctors busy tending severe cases of sunburn and campfire accidents.
At the Encino-based Circle of Care Burn Foundation tales about these types of burns and many others are all too familiar.
“I heard a story of a man who had just spray mosquito repellant on himself and then went to barbecue and the flames jumped back onto him. Who would have thought mosquito repellant was flammable,” said Foundation Controller Leela Valencia Woods.
The Foundation works with many burn centers throughout Southern California, including the legendary Grossman Burn Center in West Hills, to improve the lives of burn survivors and their families.
The Foundation provides support groups, holiday reunions, family camps and a winter retreat. It awards $2,500 per year for five years to five
high-school students through the A. Richard Grossman Scholarship fund. They host continuing education for medical professionals and burn-prevention education for seniors.
With its $500,000 estimated annual budget provided through private donations and an annual gala, the Foundation has a myriad of services to offer such as specialized burn garments, which can cost thousands of dollars, to gift cards for food and clothing, medications and temporary housing accommodations for family members as they traverse their lives as their loved one is nursed back to life in some cases.
“Treatment and recovery time for burn survivors can be agonizingly long,” Woods said. “We have a condo blocks away from the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills that provides temporary homes for family members needing to stay close to loved ones.”
Woods said the Foundation helps with the financial stress at critical times to pay for food or rent and whatever insurance companies don’t cover. Their clients are primarily people without insurance, or those who are underinsured or on Medi-Cal.
The non-profit Foundation has help in some much-publicized cases such as Roberta Dos Santos Busby of Simi Valley, the 27-year-old exotic dancer and a single mother of two, who was doused with gasoline and set on fire outside of a Tarzana sports bar in 2009. Busby spent five months in the hospital and underwent 30 operations, according to news reports.
Then there was 19-year-old Derek Thomas of San Diego, the lone survivor of a 2010 crash near Bishop that killed all of the other people in the car. Thomas suffered burns over 85 percent of his body and was given a one-percent chance of surviving.
And most recently in the news was Lyn Hiner, who put “interesting looking” rocks she found walking along a San Onofre State Beach into her pocket. Experts believe a phosphorus substance in the rocks ignited, burning her leg. Her husband, Rob Hiner, suffered burns to his hands when he tried to put out the fire.
“I get strength from burn survivors,” Woods said. “I think I would fall apart if something like that happened to me.”
Most children are burned in kitchen accidents, while adult burns are work related such as a cook, a mechanic or gas and electrical employees, Woods said.
Adults older than 65 have twice the fire death rate of the national average, while those 85 years old or older have four times as much, according to experts at the Foundation.
Every year more than 500,000 people suffer a burn injury that requires medical treatment in the United States and 4,000-plus die as a result of their injuries, according to Phoenix Society for burn survivors’ website.
Over 3,000 people die and nearly 14,000 sustain burn injuries in home fires each year, according to the agency’s statistics. The American Burn Association states in 2010, 45,000 were hospitalized for burn injuries of which 25,000 were treated at hospitals with burn centers.
For more information about the Circle of Care Burn Foundation in Encino, click here.