Borrego Sun - Since 1949

BCHF: Exits Non-Medical Services


Last updated 4/23/2021 at 2:18pm

New Non-Profit Management Needed to Keep Borrego Springs’ Frugal Coyote, Children’s Center and Mountain View Assisted Living Cottages Open.

Borrego Health is looking for people to take over the operations of the non-profit, Frugal Coyote Boutique and Resale Shop, the Children’s Center, and Mountain View Cottages, an assisted living facility, to focus strictly on medical care, according to Mark Connelly, COO of Borrego Community Health Foundation.

In a press release, Connelly stated, “In hopes that these important services to the community can continue under other leadership and financial backing, Borrego Health board members, and staff are reaching out to friends, business leaders and other non-profits, and community groups to make efforts to see these activities continue.”

Borrego Health Trustee, Martha Deichler added, “Although Borrego Health will no longer operate these additional services, we will work hard to provide for a smooth transition so that our dedicated workers will be able to continue in their employment with a different employer.”

With significant revenue losses due to the pandemic and ongoing state Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI investigations into fraud and profiteering, Borrego Health has been cut off from its major source of revenue, contract dental services. The secret management contract with Premier HealthCare Management and former Borrego Health administrators, is a major focus on the investigations.

The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has also brought in independent monitors to enforce regulations that Borrego Health managed to ignore and abuse for years, giving the monitors power to make decisions about personnel and programs, as well as assist the organization in getting back on its feet financially.

According to Deichler, “Borrego Health is currently not interested in selling the Frugal Coyote, but rather, to transfer ownership and management.”

It’s unclear what the future holds for the Children’s Center, which is funded by the Frugal Coyote, or the assisted living residential complex.

Borrego Health’s interim CEO and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Edgar Bulloch, stated via email, “We are doing this in an effort to ensure our sustainability as a medical clinic. We need to devise a new revenue portfolio that does not rely on our contract dental program. It is very much possible. However, we have to make very difficult decisions on programs that we were able to subsidize from funding that is no longer available to us at this time.”

Dr. Bulloch also conveyed a commitment to the Borrego Springs Clinic, saying “We are going to continue to focus on optimizing services at the Borrego Clinic.”

Good news for Borrego Health’s COVID-19 vaccination program, the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has awarded a historical $6 billion to 1,376 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act.

In California, a total of $993 million was awarded to 175 health centers. At $37 million, Borrego Health is the state’s highest award of the grant, with a total of $37MM (or four percent) of available state grants.

Hopefully, the new money will encourage Borrego Health to play a bigger role in vaccinating Borrego residents. The Community Coalition of local fire departments have been making a heroic effort to get Borrego vaccinated, and with Borrego Health’s help, the community could look forward to being safer, and returning to normal sooner.

“We are pleased that as a federally qualified health center (FQHC), Borrego Health will continue to receive shipments of COVID-19 vaccines directly from the federal government and will continue to provide COVID testing as needed,” stated Dr. Bulloch adding, “As we begin to turn the corner on COVID-19, we look forward to our patients coming back for their routine medical visits and focusing on their overall healthcare needs.

“In the meantime, we also look forward to beginning a series of listening sessions focused on how we can better meet the health care needs of the Borrego Springs community.”

The HRSA grant funds will be directed to expand COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, and treatment for vulnerable populations; deliver preventive and primary health care services to people at higher risk for COVID-19; and expand health centers’ operational capacity during the pandemic and beyond, including modifying and improving physical infrastructure and adding mobile units.

“While we did receive funding from the American Recovery Plan Act, the monies in that are strictly limited to COVID vaccination, COVID testing and the delivery of primary medical care” Dr. Bulloch explained.

“Borrego Health has the objective to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to all patients and individuals wanting to be vaccinated. The additional funds will allow the organization to tend to the high demand of requests. The grant monies awarded to Borrego health, and to the fellow FQHCs in the state, will be crucial to our healthcare’s system successful recovery.”

The Frugal Coyote, Borrego Springs thrift shop, has been in business for 25 years, providing new and old treasures from clothing and DVD’s, books, and household products and furnishings at discounted prices. It has been underwritten by Borrego Health for the past 10 years. Revenues from the thrift store fund employee salaries and benefits, the Children’s Center, and are a source of support for other non-profits.

The Borrego Springs Children’s Center provides preschool, full-day and half-day care for children in our community and after-school care for Head Start Kindergarten children.

The last IRS-990 tax disclosure for Borrego Health, available for public viewing, identified revenue for the Frugal Coyote at $186,000.

When contacted about the future of the Frugal Coyote, manager Ann Jastrok declined to comment. Linda Stanley, online marketing, social media communications consultant and fundraising guru, predicted the entire Borrego community would really miss the Frugal Coyote, and is hopeful a new “operator steps in that is as community-oriented and generous as the current staff.”

“At the Frugal Coyote, Ann Cody Jastrok, her board and staff are totally invested in the community. They have really been our social services “go-to” partners this past year, giving fabric for Soroptimist mask making, offering dozens of $50. Certificates for the Minister’s Association to distribute to needy families and now shopping coupons for the upcoming Mexican Mother’s Day in May,” she said.