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Borrego Expands Paramedicine


Last updated 5/24/2021 at 10:54am

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a proposal from District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond to explore the feasibility of implementing a paramedicine program within the San Diego County Fire Protection District.

The recommendation, which called for an expanded delivery of health services by paramedics of local fire departments in rural unincorporated communities, like Borrego Springs, was approved on May 4.

According to Supervisor Desmond, “The Board of Supervisors passed a very important item, especially for those in our rural areas. District 5 has a vast unincorporated area with many rural communities that have little or no access to healthcare.”

The Supervisors directed the County’s chief administrative officer to return to the board with recommendations in 180 days.

“Paramedicine will play a vital role for the residents of Borrego Springs,” Supervisor Desmond said. “It is our hope that by delivering services to those hard-to-reach places, we can eliminate the need to drive or transport patients via ambulance, cut down on hospital readmissions, and most importantly, save lives. I think Borrego Springs will be helped the greatest by this.”

In his written statement to the Board, Supervisor Desmond noted, “During the COVID 19 Pandemic, it was nearly impossible to provide adequate COVID 19 testing and vaccinations in these very rural unincorporated areas. Then our County Fire, CalFire, Department of Forestry, and 17 other departments stepped up to take part in Operation Collaboration.

Together they administered 82,000 COVID 19 tests, 35,000 COVID-19 Vaccinations and 3,200 flu vaccinations. The success of this collaboration demonstrated the need in our county to implement a community paramedicine program that could include community public health education, prevention services, hospice care, and home visits to those in need.

Borrego residents recently held a drive by show of appreciation in recognition of the numerous and continuing visits made by CalFire and rural fire department paramedics to test and deliver vaccines locally. Honorary Mayor Andy Macuga, and a parade of vehicles offered both thanks and high praise for the extra effort in Borrego. Testing and vaccinations were also, and continue to be offered at Borrego Health’s Borrego Springs clinic.

Another board proposal submitted by Supervisor Desmond seeks to help restaurants that suffered economic consequences of the pandemic closures in Borrego Springs and elsewhere. His proposal would have the County waive restaurant fee’s as a way to give restaurants a financial break.

“I know for many it’s a drop in the bucket, but I’m looking at all ways we can help industries that have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained Supervisor Desmond, adding that, “A one-year waiver in permit fees would cost the county Department of Environmental Health and Quality around $7.5 million. Health and safety inspections and the restaurant ratings they generate would continue and be funded through emergency federal pandemic relief dollars or the county general fund.”

The San Diego Union-Tribune recently praised Supervisor Desmond and urged the Supervisors to pass the proposal on June, 8, when the board plans to review the wide range of COVID-19 impacts on the county.

In a May 4 op-ed, the SDUT’s editorial editors, stated. “It’s nowhere near as serious as the pandemic’s toll in hospitalizations and deaths, but the cumulative effect of COVID-19 on restaurants has ripped jobs and central eating and meeting places from numerous communities. While many managed to hang on with takeout and, when it was allowed, outdoor dining, many others did not.”

“Now, with limited indoor dining allowed again, county Supervisor Jim Desmond has a good idea to help revive the restaurant industry: waiving permit fees for the fiscal year starting July 1. Even a small mom-and-pop restaurant with few employees has to shell out $753 for a basic permit, according to a San Diego County website. Depending on the size and nature of a restaurant, fees can run far higher.”

“Here’s hoping it is quickly approved to help restaurants that faced such hardship hold on as the outlook is improving. Desmond’s call to “lift our restaurants up” and “do all that we can to help them” resonates because so many somehow kept their doors open during the worst of the pandemic.”