Viewpoint: Medical Requirements in Borrego Springs – New Collaboration
Last updated 4/25/2021 at 9:34am
Medical care in the Borrego Valley is provided by the Borrego Community Health Foundation (BCHF or Borrego Health) and CALFIRE Paramedics. Arguably the service has had problems – from lack of availability of medical providers such as doctors to x-ray techs, restriction to “workday” service hours for medical and pharmacy, as well as equipment downtime.
We can worry about the past, or look back to “what went wrong”, but that would only provide limited use in improving health care in the Borrego valley. Alternatively, we can look into the requirements needed in our community now and ask for help to meet our needs.
What are the factors that generally affect Borregans? First, we are isolated – the nearest urgent and emergency care facilities are about 75 miles distant from the BCHF Borrego Springs Clinic. There is no daily public transportation to and from the valley that could be used for specialty medical, eye or dental care – no buses, trains, taxis or flights. Second, approximately 60 percent of our population is over age 55 – many of whom have 1 or more existing healthcare conditions that require treatment. Third, we have a seasonal population surge that increases our density from about 3,500 to around 5,500 between November and May each year. Fourth, most of the jobs and the recreation in the Borrego valley involve physical and outdoor activity.
Those four factors alone impact the type of healthcare that is needed in the Borrego valley. Realistically, healthcare is moving toward telemedicine. However, approximately one third of our population does not have access to the internet – most have a phone of some sort, but a “flip phone” will not work for telemedicine. We have learned that lesson from enrollments for COVID vaccinations. Even if telemedicine were available, what happens when there is a broken bone or a heart attack or a stroke?
A group of individuals had hoped to create a healthcare strategy for Borrego Springs in collaboration with the Borrego Community Health Foundation (BCHF/Borrego Health). The strategy would have addressed improvements to the existing clinic and expanding and enhancing services. However, this was put on hold due to challenges.
The Borrego Community Health Foundation now has state-approved Monitors in place to assist the Board of Directors to ensure that clinics and the corporation are properly run. Now is a good time to open a discussion from our community about realistic needs in Borrego Springs, the most remote location of all BCHF-run clinics.
Now is the time to open this discussion about the needs of Borrego Springs. Needs include licensed medical and staffing mix that can support the Borrego Springs Clinic being open during weekdays and on-call coverage after hours 24/7. A group of interested medical and industry professionals have joined together as “Borrego Cares Group.” Their purpose is to share their ideas with the community to foster agreement and forums for all of our healthcare-related foundations and funds to come together.
– Borrego Cares Group