Borrego Health Gets High Marks from the Patient Care Ombudsman
Last updated 12/2/2022 at 12:08pm
A Court report finds Borrego Health is delivering quality care at all of its clinics, despite its financial and legal challenges. The latest media release from Borrego Health’s spokesperson, Dan Kramer, proudly announces that Borrego Health’s Patient Care Ombudsman (PCO) informs the Bankruptcy Court that, “Borrego Health delivers essential, quality care at all clinics, including the Borrego Springs clinic.”
Following Borrego Health’s recent filing of a petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, the Bankruptcy Court ordered the appointment of a Patient Care Ombudsman (PCO) to monitor and report to the Court on the quality of patient care provided by Borrego Health. Jacob Nathan Rubin, MD, FACC, was appointed as PCO by the Office of the United States Trustee, a branch of the United States Department of Justice.
With the full cooperation of the Borrego Health Board of Trustees, Executive Team and clinic staff, Dr. Rubin and his staff have conducted a thorough evaluation of Borrego Health and its operations.
To prepare the report, Dr. Rubin and his staff coordinated to visit each Borrego Health facility, reviewed operations, directly observed patient care, examined quality measures, and spoke with staff, providers, and patients. On Nov. 11, 2022, Dr. Rubin submitted his first report which details his findings.
The report confirms that:
- Borrego Health is meeting standards of care.
- No significant quality of care issues were discovered.
- Borrego Health’s patients are well cared for, providers are dedicated and compassionate, and clinics are state of the art.
The PCO’s report on the Borrego Springs clinic was equally complimentary. Dr. Rubin stated that, “The Borrego Springs clinic and pharmacy is remote and contains state of the art equipment.”
In addition to visiting the clinic, Dr. Rubin claims to “have toured the city and surrounding area to investigate local access to care.” He reports that he found “very few independent medical providers available in the area. Those that are available do not accept Medi-Cal patients.”
“There was also a paucity of available medical providers to the community, pharmacy providers are likewise limited. Borrego Springs provides medication to the underserved community that the Borrego Springs pharmacy serves through the 340-B program,” the Doctor noted.
Dr. Rubin talked to the pharmacy director who confirmed that without the 340-B pharmacy (plan) most of the patients would not be able to obtain life saving medications.
Describing the clinic, he stated that, “The Borrego Springs clinic is so remote that it sits on the same property, adjacent to a Mercy Air Medical Helicopter center.
He pointed out, “The nearest hospitals are greater than 40 miles away and more than an hour drive.”
Dr. Rubin concluded his report on the local clinic, stating that, “In both the Anza and Borrego Springs clinics, the providers and pharmacy staff are part of the community. They perform services such as filling prescription boxes, visiting and interacting with the patients and community outside of business hours.”
Adding, “The providers and staff are familiar, not just with the patients and immediate families, but multiple generations of those families.”
The report also finds that if Borrego Health were forced to close, the consequences would be devastating to clinics like Borrego Springs. To protect patients, the report aligns with previous orders by the Bankruptcy Court for the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to direct health plans to re-assign patients back to Borrego Health and for DHCS to continue to pay Borrego Health for the care it provides to its patients.
“As part of its efforts to halt Medi-Cal payments to Borrego Health, the California Department of Health Care Services called the quality of our care, teams and facilities into question,” said Rose MacIsaac, Chief Executive Officer at Borrego Health.
“This report proves what the Borrego Health Board of Trustees, Executive Team, our providers and team members have always known – that we deliver essential, accessible, high-quality care to at-risk populations who have no other options.”
“Beyond wrongfully casting doubt on Borrego Health’s quality of care, DHCS’ continued actions have created confusion for at-risk patients, especially those in the more rural portions of our service area,” Sandra Hansberger, Chair of the Borrego Health Board of Trustees, said. “I was pleased to see the report stresses concern for patients whose health plans – at the direction of DHCS – are seeking to move them to remote and insufficient care sites.”
Finally, Dr. Rubin finds that the patients, providers, staff, and local communities “should not be punished for the wrongs of those previously in control of Borrego Health’s finances.”
“No other options” is the part of the PCO’s report that the Borrego Sun believes to be the best description of the Borrego Springs clinic. The reporter leaves it up to the people of Borrego Springs, who use the local clinic to decide if Dr. Rubens’ report on the local clinic is as glowing as he contends. Is it an accurate assessment? If not, the Court should be informed.