Borrego Sun - Since 1949

BCHF: Broadwell Healthcare

Super Spreader Provides Borrego Health’s Mental Health Services


Last updated 2/19/2021 at 9:47am

Mayor Bill Wells of El Cajon refused to enforce the COVID-19 restrictions ordered by Governor Gavin Newsom last November when coronavirus cases surged at the fastest rate since the start of the outbreak. Then on January 25, as outbreaks peaked again, the Mayor led prayers at a religious concert with hundreds of unmasked followers in defiance of state lockdowns and social distancing measures.

Why should anyone in Borrego Springs care that El Cajon’s Mayor has blatantly refused to follow government and CDC guidelines? Does it matter that Mayor Wells, not only rejects recommendations from the nation’s top medical scientists, but publicly obstructs state law?

It matters because, Mayor Wells owns Broadwell Health, the company that provides mental and behavioral health therapy for Borrego Health’s patients.

“We are sounding the alarm,” Governor Newsom announced on November 17. “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes.”

Governor Newsom’s emergency lockdown, putting the “emergency brakes” on reopening plans and placing almost all of the state back under the strictest set of rules, halted indoor worship and forced most indoor businesses to close or operate at a fraction of their capacity, and kept most schools closed. Governor Newsom also said that he was also strengthening a mask requirement outside of homes.

Defying all studies and statistics, Mayor Wells, who has a doctorate in psychology, stated in response to Governor Newsom that, “The shutdowns had not worked, and the places that have avoided shutdowns have done very well.”

Critical of giving “public health directors so much power,” he directed the city’s police department “not to make health order violations a priority” in direct defiance of Governor Newsom’s lockdown orders, which included enforcing cease and desist orders for bars, restaurants, and large gatherings.

While Wells was ignoring and refusing to obey the state’s Purple Tier emergency orders, El Cajon had one of the highest case rates in the county.

Mental health issues have reached a crisis in the wake of the pandemic, and are a consequence of the country’s inability to get a handle on its spread. Scientists say the best intermediate measures until a vaccine is available are staying home, social distancing and wearing masks. Mayor Wells did not agree, in fact, he joined the crowd of unmasked people attending a free concert by Sean Feucht, leader of the “Let us Worship” evangelical protest campaign in defiance of lockdowns and socials distancing.

In a Newsweek article, the Mayor explained that he “spoke with the musician, and was assured that contract tracing shows this is not spreading the virus.”

The newspaper also reported that ahead of the concert, despite the fact that the El Cajon City Council must approve concert permits, El Cajon’s city manager stated that, “they were not issuing a permit for the event in Wells Park.”

Interesting Coincidence: Both Mayor Wells and Feucht ran unsuccessful congressional campaigns in the 2020, California primary election. According to KUSI Television, reporting on the 2020 primary candidates, “Bill Wells of El Cajon is the conservative Republican running for the 50th Congressional District. He brings nearly 15 years of public office experience to his candidacy, including his current office as Mayor of El Cajon. The doctor of clinical psychology owns and operates Broadwell Health, a behavioral health care facility.”

Also in an interview on KUSI news, Mayor Wells explained why he opposed the state’s Purple Tier protections, saying, “People are being shut down to their homes, being controlled by the government which is unconstitutional, and they’re not being given a chance to earn a living, to pursue happiness.”

Psychologists do not have medical training, which is probably why the Mayor fails to mention that the source of people losing their “happiness” is the virus. It’s a truism that one shouldn’t pursue their personal happiness in the grip of a pandemic, if it contributes to the deaths of friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, fans, customers, clients and patrons.

The scientific-proven hope for containing the spread of the virus, short of a vaccine, is masking, staying at home, and not going to work, for everyone who can. The virus is causing these draconian measures. The virus is responsible for mental health issues, from anxiety and fear about contacting the virus; deaths of loved ones from the virus; loss of jobs, economic and food insecurity due to the virus; and school and business closures. All of these, added to loneliness caused by isolation from friends and family – are medical band aids – to stop the death and contamination – until a vaccine comes to the rescue.

It’s the virus, and the consequences of trying to contain it that leads to mental suffering and behavioral issues, like depression, domestic and child abuse, drug addictions and suicide. Why would a mental health professional, owner of a mental and behavioral health company, oppose the only tools people have to prevent the virus from killing people?

As a psychiatrist, who should know better, the Mayor’s actions and words don’t make sense, unless, they are intended to make political points during an election year. Maybe, he doesn’t believe his own rhetoric. Perhaps, he’s just aligning himself with those in government leadership positions, who have called the virus a “hoax;” stated “it would be gone in the spring;” and have also failed to advocate for and ensure that stay at home orders, wearing masks and social distancing are not just financially sustainable, but enforced.

Surely, professionals treating patients at Broadwell Health don’t agree with the Mayor’s politics. Hopefully, his political defunct and dangerous ideology doesn’t leech into the patients’ treatment.

However, it’s not just the wrong-minded behavior of the Mayor, and his unwillingness to meet his obligations for protecting the citizens of El Cajon, from the virus, not from masks, not lock downs and social distancing, it’s his business relationship with Borrego Health.

There’s this other thing that’s very important to Borregans. As the headline in the recent story on the Mayor and Broadwell in the San Diego Union-Tribune reads: “El Cajon Mayor’s Business Built on Contract with Healthcare Provider at Center of Criminal Investigation.”

Has the corruption and profiteering at the heart of the Borrego Community Health Foundation’s charges of criminal fraud, FBI raids, and a FBI, DOJ investigation, contaminated its mental health care services? If so, what does that mean to the Borrego Springs community and residents suffering from the anguish of mental illness personally, or at the hands of another.

More to come….

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