Last updated 2/2/2023 at 10:04am
The Borrego Cares Group (BCG) has joined the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP), and AB Staffing Solutions, in filing an objection with the Bankruptcy Court to Borrego Health’s plan to auction off its property and assets.
In a letter to the Court, BCG requests the Court return ownership of the Borrego Springs Clinic to the community with the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund, or a non-profit entity of the Borrego Cares Committee as recipients of the deed.
Judge Laura Taylor of the United States Bankruptcy Court Southern District of California will be hearing arguments pro and con regarding Borrego Health’s auction proposal on February 22, 2 p.m., but that date could change. Following this meeting, the Judge will approve, amend, or deny the motion.
According to Court documents, Borrego Cares, represented by Sarah Rogers, specifically opposes the sale of the Borrego Springs Clinic, on the basis, the Clinic, both the building and land were donated by the DiGiorgio Company, developers of Rams Hill, a resort, country club community in Borrego Springs, as part of the specific plan development approved by the County of San Diego.
“He was very wise. From the very beginning, DiGiorgio understood that health care would be a concern for buyers of Rams Hill Homes,’’ stated Bob Kelly, former chairman of the San Diego Foundation and the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund.”
Money to build the Clinic was raised from the community by DiGiorgio, who held fundraisers and collected private donations.
Rogers argues, “The word ‘community’ in Borrego Community Health Foundation is appropriate, since, not only was the Clinic built with private charitable gifts, the Clinic provides the only health care within a 75-mile radius. It was obviously understood that when the Clinic was passed on to Borrego Health as a gift with zero remuneration, that it would serve and belong to the entire community, as it has for the past 30-plus years.”
The planned community approved by San Diego County stated in the original proposal: “The Clinic, besides providing primary care, would offer specialty clinics at the site, using the staff of the Scripps Clinic Medical Group. The building would be a single-story, low-profile structure, containing approximately 6,300 square feet. Although a 12 acre-site is being provided to retain an open, spacious appearance, only 3.5 acres are designated and used for the clinic site, to include entrance roads, parking and landscaping.”
The land donated to Scripps Clinic by the developer, in 1980, was then gifted to the Borrego Community Health Foundation by a Grant Deed and Quit Claim deed in 1991.
Rogers maintains that the building and property rightfully belong to the community, not BCHF, based on the fact it has been historically used as a community Clinic, and managed by BCHF, not owned by the Foundation.
“Built in 1982, the Borrego Medical Clinic, as it was called, prior to being the first clinic to be operated by Borrego Health, was sustained and maintained by private donations from the Borrego Community Health Society, a non-profit created to collect and channel funds from charitable donations to the Clinic.
The Borrego Community Health Society refiled with the state as the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund in order to comply with IRS changes in regulations governing privately donated funds and public (government) funds.
Prior to changing the name of the non-profit managing the clinic to Borrego Community Health Foundation, and adopting an aggressive expansion and growth mission under then CEO Bruce Hebets, in 2004, the organization was known as the Borrego Community Medical Society with oversight for one clinic – the Borrego Medical Clinic.
According to Kelly, the Board of Trustees at that time were locals, “and the Clinic, not only survived through major financial donations from the community, but through the generosity and service of local healthcare professionals, like Dr. Floyd Woolcott, dedicated to providing the best care possible for Borrego residents and tourists.”
The Borrego Community Medical Society, (Borrego Valley Endowment Fund) supported the Clinic with quarterly installments of $70,000, after Scripps turned the Clinic over to the community, until sometime between 2004 – 2010.
When Borrego Health qualified and was licensed as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), the Foundation relied on Medicaid, Medicare and a sliding scale as its revenue sources.
“Allowing Borrego Health to benefit financially from an asset that rightfully belongs to the community, would constitute an unjust enrichment to BCHF,” Rogers claims.
Judge Laura Taylor responded to the BCG filing, stating, “Without prejudice to any final determination on Dr. Roger’s standing, the Court will treat this filing as an objection to the Debtor’s anticipated motion to the approve the sale of its assets and will hear it at the time of the hearing on a motion seeking sale approval.