Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Borrego Springs Medical Center - Community Prescriptions

 

Last updated 12/16/2015 at 1:55pm



Resorts need health care

The biggest mystery to the apparent lack of medical services in Borrego Springs is the estimation of the number of prospective permanent residents and indeed part-time visitors who choose to permanently reside elsewhere or, who select other leisure destinations. Not infrequently, do guests inquire of medical services as to, “What if something were to occur?”

The absence of basic services is real. The subsequent effect on our local economy is under-reported and under-estimated.

La Casa del Zorro Resort and Spa offers its full-time employees a participatory major health insurance plan. However, on a personal level, I have purchased for my own family a medical evacuation policy through MASA based on the reality that a majority of emergency patients (Local residents and our own guests) are air evacuated to available hospitals and services in larger metropolitan towns and cities.

Our Borrego Springs’ Emergency Service Teams and Paramedics are as professional and competent as any, however, their ability to provide on-going and additional treatment when necessary is severely restricted by this same lack of medical facilities and services, particularly in the after-hours. The majority of our staff use doctors in other towns and cities making preventative or regular medical appointments a one-half day’s adventure.

The Workers Comp arena is also a challenge to local business. When injuries do occur, we are obliged to provide transportation with another employee to 24-hour services in other cities. These trips can take up to four hours with the lost productivity of both staff members being incurred.

PATRICK SAMPSON

General Manager - La Casa del Zorro Resort & Spa

Realtors need health care

With the exception of quality internet, health care is the number one question we get asked about when meeting prospective buyers.

We find that our clients are accustomed to having emergency facilities less than 70 miles away from their home and a pharmacy that is open seven days a week. We also notice as our population ages, many are making the decision to move out of Borrego Springs because of health care concerns. Many times, this group feels that they need to be closer to specialized, emergency and trauma care. If there was a facility located within the town’s borders, I believe we would retain our residents longer and attract new ones.

KATHY KING & MAYOR MEEKS,

Coldwell Banker Borrego

Making planning decisions for a healthy community

Am I proponent or an opponent of the proposal to build a 10-bed hospital here in Borrego? Presently, I am neither. I do not understand the issues swirling around this planning decision adequately enough to have anything but an uninformed opinion at this time. Do I believe that having such a facility may enable some Borregans to remain living here rather than moving? Undoubtedly. However, I know long-time Borregans who have moved recently because of the groundwater basin overdraft and deteriorating air quality, both public health issues that affect everyone in Borrego. I also know folks who have moved away recently to care for family members, to seek employment, to be closer to children, to escape the heat and electric bills of the summer months, etc., etc. And, I know folks who have moved here recently in order to golf 8-months of the year, to experience the splendor of living in a desert community located in the heart of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, one of the world’s best examples of the type of desert the park protects, to get away from big city noise, traffic and box stores, and especially to participate in the workings of a community where folks love where they live.

In my own experience I could not be more pleased with the health care I have received at Borrego Community Health Foundation Clinic and the regional hospitals: Eisenhower, Sharps, Scripps, UCSD, etc. located nearby. I have used them all at different times, for different purposes. I wholeheartedly support and give thanks for the work of the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund (BVEF) in providing funding to realize the goal of proper healthcare and essential public health services for our community.

LYLE BRECHT

BWD Director, Borrego Springs

Seniors need health care

I’d like to know who at the Medical Center has the legal right to refuse the money that was offered to improve the Medical Center.

We seniors are confused about Borrego Springs being advertised as a wonderful senior retirement community, yet there isn’t full time medical care, X-ray only on Monday or Friday for example.

Who is powerful enough in Borrego Springs to correct this situation?

Not every senior is physically or financially capable to use out-of- town medical facilities, they are stuck here with the services at the current Center, SAD.

PAT OAKES

Borrego Springs

Perplexed about health care

The business of operating a medical center is complicated, with a ‘Capital C.’

The Board of Directors of the Medical Foundation has done a remarkable job of building a major organization, when no one else before them could. However, I think they can do better, our village needs better and all of us can help!

Our family provides permanent and seasonal housing for approximately 550 seniors at the RoadRunner Club, as well as several hundred more visitors each year at the Springs RV Resort, many of them taking a ‘long look’ at our village.

Borrego Springs is a very special place. Jenny and I, as well as our son Dan and his wife Nancy, live here year ’round because it is so special. However, many, and I mean many visitors, do not move here because of lack of adequate medical facilities. Also, too many folks leave early for the same reason.

Last spring the Borrego Springs Endowment Fund paid for a formal study (I understand it cost nearly $100,000) by a qualified consultant that concluded that Borrego Springs cannot afford a full-fledged hospital. However, it did suggest that we could afford a new clinic facility including Urgent Care and to move administration up to the existing clinic building at Ram’s Hill.

As a result, the Endowment Fund made a formal proposal as such.

I am perplexed why the Health Foundation has declined that offer. Up to eight million dollars ($8,000,000) on land properly zoned and not in a flood plain, to be donated by the Endowment Fund! Furthermore, all rent paid to the Endowment Fund would stay in Borrego Springs to be reinvested in our village. Over years, that is millions of dollars.

Jenny and I came to Borrego Springs in 1980 (whew! 35 years!) to buy the RoadRunner Club, fell in love with the Valley and considering the fact that I have heart disease, and have had heart attacks, bypass, etc., we still decided to make this our domicile. Among the reasons were the great paramedic service at the fire department, as well as ‘super docs,’ Dennis Ehrlich, Jamie Paris and now Dr. Keith Merrick (Julian Clinic). In addition, Dr. James Huot, Nurse Jan Jones and my special Nurse Rebecca Martin who ‘mended’ my 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my face and arms, daily, a dozen years ago. And not one scar, what special care! Also great service at the pharmacy!

And now, new helicopter service coverage to be paid for by the Endowment Fund!

In summary, the Health Foundation needs to reconsider the Endowment Fund’s offer and work together to make our village an even better place to live!

Borrego Springs needs to grow a bit (but not too much!)

BILL WRIGHT

Owner, RoadRunner Club - Borrego Springs

Moving for health care

My husband and I have lived here full time for eight years. We purchased our first home here in 1986 as a weekend retreat with the idea to retire here someday. When the time came to move here full time, we realized that there wasn’t sufficient health care in the valley so we kept our health insurance with our HMO over in town. We heard it was coming but it never happened. That is a huge burden for us to have to travel two hours, each direction, not to mention the fuel and our carbon footprint, just to receive our health care needs.

My husband (age 75) is very concerned about any urgent care that either of us may need in this valley. We know there is no URGENT CARE ??? I believe as people get older, they tend to worry more about their health and how they are going to get critical care.

It seems that everyone we speak to about this has the same concerns and the same frightening stories about the care they’ve received at the Borrego Medical Center. I know several people, including myself and my husband, who are considering moving out of town for this reason alone! I realize that we are a small town in the middle of nowhere but there are thousands of small towns that have proper health care and emergency services in the middle of nowhere, so WHY not Borrego?

It’s time we get what we need in this town, no matter what it takes or whose feet we have to hold to the fire. Maybe we wouldn’t be losing residents by either leaving town to seek adequate health care or not wanting to move here because of the lack of it! Shame on us for not fighting for this sooner!

BUNNIE HAMILTON

Chamber Director, Borrego Springs

People are leaving for health care

Having recently looked at the publicaly available tax returns of the Borrego Community Health Foundation from the last several years (readily available on the web), I get concerned as to their senior management’s focus. When I hear of so many medical needs in our community that are not being met by the Foundation for many years now, coupled with their demonstrative revenue growth due to their operations outside of Borrego Springs over the last ten years, I see an organization and senior management that is not financially incentivized to deliver the health care the Foundation’s namesake community needs.

The Foundation has some really great people here at the clinic, pharmacy, dental and business office that I for one would like to see stay. They are members of our community and care about it. They are our friends and neighbors.

These great people are not the ones I am speaking to. It is the Foundation’s senior management who are personally reaping the rewards of the Foundation’s growth outside of the Valley that I am pleading with to listen to us and deliver the health care we need as a community. Borrego Springs’ health care is in their hands.

We and they are at a crossroads. Things need to change and change now. People are leaving Borrego Springs because their health care needs are not being met. People are not moving to Borrego Springs for the same reason. There are events/organizations that are looking to turn from Borrego Springs or will not give us a second glance because of our health care limitations.

Quality 24/7/365 critical care and 24/7/365 pharmaceutical access in Borrego Springs would go a long way. A place where a diabetic can get an IV drip, where someone in the early stages of a stroke can get medicine to stop its progression, where a parent can bring a child that needs a couple of stitches or is running a high fever in the middle of the night, etc. Basic, quality critical access health care.

An organization that grossed over $60 million in fiscal year 2013 (ending 6/30/2014) alone and will do more this year, can do better for Borrego Springs! And it is not with an office building, It is with critical access health care. An office building and expanded business operations will provide jobs, but it will not save lives or get people to move here or stay here (other than for the few jobs)!

The economic viability of Borrego Springs is at stake. It is my hope the Borrego Community Health Foundation’s senior management will do the right thing for them and for us.

The Foundation needs to step it up where Borrego Springs’ healthcare is concerned and I challenge its senior management to take the community’s concerns seriously and improve our healthcare.

LINDA HADDOCK

Executive Director,

Chamber of Commerce - Borrego Springs

Abandoning Paradise

I purchased my dream home in Borrego eleven months ago and turned it into a showplace. It is an elegant, serene Shangri la that brought me peace and healing each day; watching the sun rise and set, discovering the wonders of nature on long walks with my sweet dog and proudly sharing my lovely environment with friends.

Today my cloud nine is in escrow. The veterinarian who had an office in Borrego when I made the offer on the house had closed before I moved in. The doctor I chose from an insurance company who assured me there was a doctor in town turned out to be a clinician who does not have hospital privileges. I was able to change my insurance to cover my previous PCP in San Diego 90 miles away.

I moved in on Dec. 29, 2014. My 14-year-old canine companion died Feb. 7. I fell and broke my pelvis March 2. Fortunately, in San Diego, where I was taken to a hospital and later, to an acute care facility for a month.

When I returned home in April I was unable to drive or walk without a walker, and there was no physical therapist in town covered by my insurance. As a newcomer and single woman, I was alone but managed my domestic chores and driving without help.

Summer convinced me that I needed to abandon my paradise for practical amenities. I am not cherishing the few remaining days in my dream home while searching for a one bedroom condo near San Diego.Please include my sad story among the results.

IRENE COREY - San Diego

Without health care

The good thing about being a doctor is you can bury your mistakes.

DENNY DUVALL - Julian

Outdated equipment

There have been many times when I have been sitting in the examining room while Dr. Huot has been trying to get on the computer to look at my past history. The computer system there drives him crazy.

Extremely frustrating for him. It is archaic and constantly freezes up. He says that every day working with that computer system, it puts him further and further behind in his patients’ scheduled appointment times.

I know of actual people that have left the examining room because the computer system was giving Dr. Huot so much trouble. They didn’t want to add to his frustration. They left and re-scheduled.

I actually worry that we may lose Dr. Huot because of that obsolete computer system. Why would the powers that be allow their doctor to work under such circumstances?

I cannot fathom a reason, not to mention how many patient lives are put in jeopardy because of that very system.

CYNTHIA WOOD

Owner of Palms at Indian Head and Red Ocotillo Restaurant - Borrego Springs

Attract with health care

The current state of medical care in Borrego Springs is that it is not meeting the most basic needs of our permanent and part-time residents, and that these currently inadequate medical services represent a significant drag on the development of our community. We can and must do better. We need basic emergency triage services and basic primary care services, both of which must be available on a 24-hour-a-day basis. As we develop improved medical services, we will be guided by inescapable demographic realities, e.g. a community of our size cannot support a full service, multi-specialty hospital; but I believe we can support the basic emergency and primary care services that will make our community a safer and more attractive destination.

DAVID GARMON M.D., President and Founding Director, Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy

Absentee health care

Many of the parents of my students appreciate and take advantage of the convenience of the Medical Center for routine check-ups, immunizations, physicals and non-emergency appointments. The proximity of the Center allows students to miss only a portion of the school day.

If the Medical Center services were expanded and strengthened to offer a more comprehensive menu of health services, absenteeism among staff and students would be greatly reduced.

As it is, Borrego Springs Unified School District (BSUSD) absenteeism is high, as folks must take an entire day off to reach medical services in outlying areas. Every time a student is absent from school, excused or not, the district loses money. Every time a teacher is absent, there is an interruption in a child’s education.

MARTHA DEICHLER

BSUSD Superintendent

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