Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Can Caring Group Save Clinic?

 

Last updated 12/20/2022 at 11:42am



With the bankruptcy filing, and now the proposed auction of the clinics, and all of Borrego Health’s assets, it’s very difficult to predict how one, lone, local clinic will fare. And, as an essential element of a vital and healthy home town, the fate of the Borrego Springs Clinic is a serious concern. Will it be bought? Will the buyer invest more interest and resources in the clinic? Will the buyer know anything about the community or care?

For too long, the Borrego Springs Clinic has been the forgotten stepchild of Borrego Health. With the chaotic expansion of the Borrego Community Health Foundation, and the race to grow and make money, this, the original clinic, was left behind–last in line for medical resources from a permanent qualified doctor to a modern EKG machine.

A group of home-grown investors and friends, the Borrego Cares Group (BCG), wants to change this, and is investigating the option to buy the community clinic. Their strategy is to acquire the clinic building; overcome the past and stigmas with a fresh start that includes experienced medical personnel managing the clinic and serving on the board of trustees.

“The goal is to make the clinic an FQHC practice that serves and attracts the Medicare, Medicaid-government-insured clients, as well as tourists, visitors and the privately-insured equally, with the highest quality primary care possible,” stated Sarah Rogers, spokesperson for the group.

“Beginning with the first step, which would be to name Dr. Laura Goetz, who was the last physician assigned to the Borrego Springs Clinic, the Chief Medical Officer, bringing medical expertise and knowledge of what the community needs to move forward.”

She also points out that, “Dr. Goetz is an amazing, caring doctor. She knows what needs to happen for the clinic to move forward as a state of the art clinic, specifically designed for Borrego’s medical and economic environment; and behind her is a group of nationally and internationally recognized medical professionals that excel in healthcare administration, business, diagnosis, treatment, research, collaboration, grant writing and fundraising. Adding, “This is a real dream team, sharing a common factor – love of Borrego Springs.”

The members of the Borrego Cares Group are:

Dr. Laura Goetz is a surgeon, who came from Scripps Green Hospital, La Jolla, a highly rated and top awarded hospital for general surgery. While at the Borrego Springs clinic, she proposed a number of improvements she felt were needed to regain community trust and patronage. Her advice was ignored, but she has a dream to see the Borrego Springs Clinic thrive.

Dr. Goetz has a stellar career and remains an Adjunct Professor for the Department of Molecular Medicine, Scripps Center for Metabolomics, Scripps Research Institute; and Adjunct Professor, Prevention Program Translational Genomics Research Institute.

She previously held positions as a Cancer Prevention Specialist, City of Hope National Medical Center; Staff Physician, General surgery and Cancer prevention specialist, Scripps Clinic Medical Group; Site Director, Scripps Clinic; US Navy General Surgery Residency; Head of Phenotyping, Human Longevity, Inc.; Director of Applied Genetic Epidemiology, Scripps Research Translational Institute.

Dr. Goetz was also Staff General Surgeon, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Oakland, CA; Site Director University of California-East Bay General Surgery Residency; Staff Surgeon, Colon and Rectal Surgery Associates; Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, Division of General Surgery, University of California, San Francisco; Associate Program Director, General Surgery Residency, University of California; and Staff General Surgeon, Lakeview Clinic, Waconia, MN;

Her military service includes: Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army Reserve Medical Corps; Staff Surgeon, US Army, Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn; and Staff Surgeon, US Army, Operation Enduring Freedom. Awards and Honors include: COVID-19 “Hero of the Week” Award, TGen; American Cancer Society Volunteer Award; Army Commendation Medal; Combat Action Badge; Faculty Resident Teaching Award, University of California, San Francisco; Outstanding Student Teaching Award, Northwestern Medical School; R.W. Johnson Award for Excellence in Infectious Disease/AIDS Research, Central Society for Clinical Research, Chicago, IL.

In addition, she has overseen multiple grant programs, and chaired and lectured at national and international symposiums from Uganda, to the Mayo and Harvard Clinics; and submitted to 21 peer reviewed publications.

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Dr. Nicholas J. Schork is Deputy Director and Distinguished Professor of Quantitative Medicine at The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, AZ. Dr. Schork is also Adjunct Professor of Population Sciences as well as Molecular and Cellular Biology at City of Hope, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Diego and Adjunct Professor of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology at Scripps Research.

Prior to his current positions, Dr. Schork was Professor and Director of Human Biology at the J. Craig Venter Institute and previously Professor, Molecular and Experimental Medicine, at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and Director of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics for the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI). Dr. Schork has also held faculty appointments at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and Harvard University.

He has published over 550 articles in many areas of biomedical and translational science. He is married to Dr. Goetz.

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Dr. Carrolee Barlow, M.D., Ph.D., is a renowned expert in neuroscience and neurodegeneration, the treatment of rare and neurological diseases, and the clinical development of new therapies.

Dr. Barlow most recently served as CEO of the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center, an independent nonprofit organization providing research, clinical trials and patient care for Parkinson’s and related disorders. She led all aspects of basic research, clinical research and clinical care, as well as partnerships with biotech and pharmaceutical companies. She remains as a member of the Board. Earlier in her career, Dr. Barlow was a professor of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

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Dr. Paul Teirstein, MD, is the chief of cardiology and director of interventional cardiology for Scripps Clinic and director of the Scripps Prebys Cardiovascular Institute for Scripps Health. He received training at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Stanford University, the Mid-America Heart Institute, and the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Teirstein joined Scripps in 1987, and is the founder and director of the interventional cardiology program at Scripps Clinic. Through this program he is leading the way in training a new generation of interventional cardiologists with a primary focus on complex coronary interventions and new technology development.

He played an active role in the initial development and clinical investigation of coronary stent procedures, rotablator atherectomy, transluminal extraction atherectomy, coronary angioscopy and the utilization of cardiopulmonary support; and pioneered the first effective treatment for restenosis (low dose radiation therapy); and was one of the early investigators of medicated stents.

The author of numerous publications, Dr. Teirstein has lectured throughout the world on state-of-the-art interventional cardiology techniques. He is an internationally recognized leader in cardiology and has received countless awards for both research and clinical excellence. Dr. Teirstein currently performs in excess of 800 stent procedures per year and maintains an active clinical research unit at Scripps Clinic, where he strives to offer patients the most advanced cardiovascular care available worldwide.

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Sarah Rogers, a retired Naval Officer, holds various advanced degrees from military and civilian colleges and universities. She began uniformed service in Operation Deep Freeze. Over a 20-year career of active and reserve service, she served as division officer, department head, and Program Director. Her career positions included aviation logistics, computers, and telecommunications, administration, civil emergency planning and international negotiations.

In 2000, Rogers completed her commissioned duty in the rank of Commander. She was elected to the Military Officers Association of America Board of Directors, representing 38,000 members nationwide. She was also appointed to the Veterans “Development Committee” for the US Small Business Administration.

After this, she continued her career as an Industrial Organizational Psychologist. Asked to take the role of Defense Acquisition Program Director, where under her leadership the program rose from the worst performing to top performer in the Department of the Navy. She was responsible for training and certification for more than 7,000 employees and military members and a six million-dollar annual budget.

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Dr. Hugh Greenway, MD, is the chair of Bighorn Mohs Surgery and Dermatology Center at Scripps Clinic and was recently selected as Program Director for Cutaneous Oncology for the new Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center (SMDACC) for Southern California.

He was fellowship trained in Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery by Dr. Frederic E. Mohs at the University of Wisconsin and has performed more than 40,000 Mohs surgery cases at Scripps Clinic for skin cancers of all types. As a result, he is considered a national leader and expert in the field.

While he started his medical career as a naval physician in Family Practice before training in Dermatology, Dr. Greenway has brought a wealth of expertise and recognition to Scripps Clinic and the Bighorn Mohs Surgery and Dermatology Center for more than 30 years. His medical service also includes assignments with the United States Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Dr. Greenway established the Micrographic Surgery and Dermatologic Oncology one-year fellowship program at Scripps, which is one of the best in the country. To date, Dr. Greenway has trained more than 50 fellows.

In recognition for his clinical and teaching roles, Dr. Greenway has received numerous accolades over the years. His recognitions include being named to the “Best Doctors in America” and “America’s Top Doctors for Cancer” lists. He was made an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Dermatology for his work and service. In 2017, he received the prestigious Frederic E. Mohs Award from the American College of Mohs Surgery (one of only 14 individuals to ever receive this award).

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Lee Rogers, a retired U.S. Naval military commander, specializing in information systems; and Patrick Meehan, a prominent Borrego Springs Businessman, round out the group.

The BCG is currently talking with a bankruptcy attorney, whom they intend to engage to help them work their way through the court, and the proposed auction to bring the clinic back to Borrego Springs.

According to Sarah Rogers, members of the Borrego Cares Group are not only capable of moving it forward, but making it a model of primary care and plan to make it the clinic that was envisioned by the original investors.

“The pioneers of the clinic were medical professionals and residents that contributed millions in funding to what is now the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund (BVEF) to ensure that Borrego would always have a clinic that Borregans could count on, and take pride in,” Sarah Rogers said.

“The original professionals and contributors understood the clinic was an essential element of a thriving rural town.” Adding that the group is currently in discussions with the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund regarding the clinic’s future.

The Borrego Cares Group began meeting over two years ago with then, Borrego Health’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dan Anderson, and former CEO Mikia Wallis to discuss the problems, needs of Borrego residents and future of the clinic.

“Our plan at that time, before the FBI/DOJ raids and allegations of illegal activities, was to partner with Borrego Health, drawing on their FQHC status, but manage the clinic locally, with a separate, more Borrego-involved, and focused advisory board of trustees,” explained Sarah Rogers, who served briefly as a Borrego Health Trustee.

“It wasn’t a new concept. Borrego Health has a similar arrangement with Chairman (Dan) Anderson, who owns two clinics in Riverside, operating in partnership with Borrego Health, and uses its FQHC favored status to charge higher rates to Medi-Cal. The Anderson clinics have a board of trustees, appointed by Anderson, that serve his clinics’ separate from the Borrego Health Board; and are named, ‘The Riverside Community Health Foundation.’”

The BCG also met with other officers, including current Board Chairwoman Sandra Hansberger, about turning the clinic over to the community, by following Scripps Institute of Health’s model of satellite clinics, managed and overseen by local advisory boards. The group’s professionals prepared and presented a number of documents to the Borrego Health Trustees that included staffing models, tailored to Borrego’s clientele; budgets and informal business plans; as well as a Charter; and other resources; including doctors that could be recruited to give the old clinic new life.

“One of the advantages the BCG has over Borrego Health is national and international credibility and work experience, that gives them contact with a wide range of high quality, potential medical employees,” Sarah Rogers pointed out.

“Unfortunately, after a few false starts, the discussions and dialogue were discontinued by Borrego Health. We were really hoping we could return the clinic back to Borregans. Too much emphasis at the time was on Riverside and other counties, from trustee appointments, to plans to actually move the Borrego Health administration to Riverside.”

Adding, “The focus and interest of the Borrego Cares Group is strictly Borrego Springs, not east Coachella, El Cajon, or any of the 24 other Borrego Health clinics. Our focus is Borrego Springs; because members of the Borrego Cares Group live here, and have the knowledge and skill to understand the clinic’s current deficiencies and problems.

“We want to do as the founders had done – build and staff a model rural clinic that provides quality care to both the underserved and those who can afford private providers and live, or spend time in Borrego. In other words, a clinic capable of meeting the medical needs of everyone living, or visiting Borrego,” she concluded.

While most members of the group own homes in Borrego Springs, the BCG also has the respect and friendship of other significant medical leaders, who agreed to sign on and share their talents, without compensation, as advisors/directors/managers/fundraisers.

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