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Local News November 15th, 2007

New Medical Clinic At Albertson’s Creates a Stir

Some preliminary misinformation and curiosity has apparently developed a story that still leaves questions to be answered.

Last week, readers called and sent emails to The Paper wondering what the story was about the new “Free Clinic” going in at Albertson’s, on East Valley Parkway in Escondido.

First, it’s not a Free Clinic.

We hadn’t heard about it but made some inquiries. Local Albertson’s store manager Craig May said he was not allowed to discuss it but did confirm there was a medical clinic being built within the Albertson’s store, and that it would be operated by Palomar Pomerado Health. He referred all further inquiries to Albertson’s corporate offices. They too, were tight lipped about the operation, saying they did not yet have a press release. We contacted Andy Hoang, media spokesman for Palomar Pomerado Health District. He was initially somewhat reluctant to discuss the matter but did acknowledge the board had, in fact, approved the contract and working agreement with Albertson’s to build a Retail Medical Clinic within Albertson’s. He took strong exception to the term “free clinic.”

“There’s no ‘free clinic,” he said. “We have to run a fiscally prudent operation and it would not be fiscally responsible to give medical services away. It is a Retail Medical Clinic. We have not gone public with it as yet because we are working out the details, the logistics. This clinic will provide Access Care,” he said, “improving access. Instead of going to the ER, many of these patients will now have access to the Retail Medical Clinic."

When asked about concerns that several readers had expressed, about the possibility of contagious diseases being exposed in a store that sells food and the possibility of a heavy population of germs being available near food products, Hoan responded, “It’s no different than an optometrists clinic in a grocery store or large retail store."

He also expressed frustration with reader concerns that such a Retail Medical Clinic within a local grocery store might generate a large amount of illegal alien traffic to the store. “This is not being built to treat illegal immigrants,” he insisted.

It was important to him that our readership be told that Proposition BB dollars are not being used for the construction of this Retail Medical Clinic, that funding was from operational funds. Proposition BB was the proposition voters passed which authorized general obligation bonds up to $496,000,000 ($496 million) in aggregate principal to provide financing or refinancing for hospital and health care facilities projects. Some critics have argued that Palomar Pomerado have not applied the funds in the manner for which they were intended nor in a timely fashion. It is clearly a sensitive issue to Palomar Pomerado.

It was later learned that Palomar Pomerado had initiated discussions with Albertson’s about the idea.

Palomar-Pomerado Ambulatory Care Manager, Stonish Pierce, pointed out the clinic will be located at the front of the store, that there would be a separate waiting room and treatment room for patients so they would not likely be exposed to store patrons or food products anymore than patrons of the pharmacy might be.

A press release was then issued by both Palomar Pomerado and Albertson’s, announcing the clinic.

The new clinic will be known as PPH Expresscare Clinics. It is a partnership between Palomar Pomerado Health and Albertson’s.
The intent is to offer quality, convenient, and affordable medical care and is expected to be operational by the first of the year.

Said to be a new form of retail-based medical clinics designed to meet the needs of busy families and customers on the go, the service will be available both in Escondido at the Albertson’s location at 1509 East Valley Parkwy (at Rose) and at 14340 Penasquitos Road in the Carmel Valley/I-15 area. They are said to be the first retail medical clinics branded by a health system in Southern California.

PPH Expresscare Medical Services will be provided by certified family Nurse Practitioners working in collaboration with board certified physicians to provide care for patients two years and older. Certified family Nurse Practitioners will be on-site to assess, diagnose and treat many common medical conditions, provide health screenings, physicals and administer select vaccines for one flat fee of $59 (or less in some instances). PPH Expresscare will be open 7 days a week with extended weekday hours; appointments are not required. In the event that a prescription is medically necessary, the Expresscare Nurse Practitioners will write a prescription and patients can choose to fill it in the store, or wherever they choose.

Michael H. Covert, president and CEO of PPH said, "This innovative new program aligns well with our vision to provide access to comprehensive services by giving the community another option to have their routine health care needs addressed. Access to high quality affordable health care is one of the top issues facing our communities today. The PPH Expresscare model addresses this critical need."

PPH selected Albertson's as a strategic partner given Albertsons' history as a strong community partner, the company's strong brand and reputation among Southern California consumers and the SUPERVALU mission to serve [its] customers better than anyone else could serve them, which resonates well with the PPH vision to be the health system of choice.

Both parties agree that sometimes work and school commitments make it difficult for individuals to seek a doctor's guidance for common maladies such as colds, flu, earaches, bumps or scrapes. With no appointments required, the expresscare clinics will make it easy for patients to get the care they need when they need it.

"Integrating the Palomar Pomerado Health Expresscare Clinics into our stores makes perfect sense in today's fast-paced world," commented Sue Klug, president of Albertsons Southern California Division.

Stonish Pierce also pointed out that the expresscare clinics will help alleviate the waiting in the Emergency Room and at much less cost. The flat fee of $59 is much less than charges incurred at the Palomar Emergency Room.

He did acknowledge that the lower fees might attract more indigent and/or illegal aliens and that, legally, the expresscare clinic could not turn them away. Dr. Don Herip, a Family Practice physician, and who is Medical Director of Corporate Health Program, confirmed that the express clinics were not meant to be a medical home but for episodic illness; they highly encourage patients to follow up with their primary care physicians.

Handymen Needed for Project Care

If you are handy with a hammer, handsaw, or familiar with simple household repair jobs, Project CARE has a job for you.

CARE (Community Action to Reach the Elderly) is seeking handymen to help with their “Minor Home Repairs” program that is designed to assist senior citizens, but is open to all.

Project CARE also runs a free taxi voucher program, an “Are You Okay” telephone at home service, and other programs that help seniors stay safely in their own homes.

If you are able and interested in helping, call Stan Sweatt or Charlotte Johnson at 760.744.0467.

Nominations Sought for Esconido City Council Awards

Each year at the State of the City meeting, the Escondido City Council recognizes individuals who have improved the quality of life in the community through volunteer service. Nominations now are being solicited for these awards.

If you know of an Escondido resident who has made a significant impact to the community, please obtain a City Council Awards nomination form by calling the City Manager's Office (760-839-4631) or you may download a copy from the City's web site: www.ci.escondido.ca.us/government/awards/.

Categories include, but are not limited to: Arts, Business, Charity, Community Beautification, Diversity, Education, Environment, Heroism, History, and Youth. The deadline for nomination is 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 13, 2007.

A sub-committee of the City Council will review all nominations and make its final selection in mid-December. The awards will be presented at the Annual State of the City address on Wednesday, January 16, 2008, at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

City of Vista Recreation Division Offers Pre School Sports

The City of Vista Parks and Community Services Department is still accepting applications for the Youth Basketball Program for Boys and Girls born between the years of 1990-2001. Please don't hesitate to register as many divisions are close to starting.

All registration will be taken at the Wildwood Recreation Center, 651 East Vista Way, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The cost of the program ranges between $65 and $94 pending on the division and whether or not the participant is a Vista resident. To ensure the success of this league, volunteer coaches are needed to instruct the participants. For more information on the league and registration, please contact Kerran Hartung at 760-726-1340, ext. 1572.

Carlsbad Woman Arrested in Fatal Hit and Run Accident

The California Highway Patrol arrested a Carlsbad woman Saturday in connection with a fatal hit-and-run involving a stranded driver.

William Hansen was killed Friday night while stranded on the side of the road. CHP officials said he was hit while filling up his gas tank and was dragged to his death.
The CHP said Jessica Lynn Hawk, 23, was arrested after residents in an Oceanside neighborhood recognized her vehicle and called police. During the time of the accident, she was under the influence of alcohol and had her 3-year-old son in the car, the CHP said.

Hawk was charged with felony DUI, felony hit-and-run, gross vehicular manslaughter and child endangerment.

The Arguments In Support of Carlsbad’s Desalination Plant

Today, at 8am, marked the beginning of the day when Poseidon Resources, the private company seeking to build a deslaniation plant, gets a chance to persuade the Coastal Commission that the plan is meritorious.

Over a year of pleading it’s case has passed and, following the Coastal Commission’s staff recommendation to deny the plant, the principals seek to show the 12 Commission members that it is the right and proper thing to do to let it build the Western Hemisphere's largest desalination plant on Carlsbad’s coast.

The commission's staff says the plant would degrade water quality and harm marine life in Agua Hedionda Lagoon, the source of the ocean water that would be desalinated.

Many homes in The Bluffs, a housing development in Carlsbad, have views of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, the source of the proposed desalination plant's water. The developer, Poseidon Resources, argues that if it can build the plant, it will care for the lagoon and assure its future health. Company officials also say the desalination process it proposes is more environmentally friendly than any alternative.

Even before Poseidon submitted an application to build its plant last year – commission staff members have differed on the best way to turn ocean water into drinking water. Poseidon Resources proposes tapping into the ocean-water stream that NRG Energy uses to cool its steam-driven turbines at the Encina Power Station on the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

This method takes advantage of existing water intake and outfall pipes, which Poseidon says would cost $150 million to build, and makes it easier to treat the seawater because the power plant has warmed it up. The Coastal Commission staff has long objected to this method because thousands of fish, larvae and other marine organisms are killed as water is drawn into and circulates through the power plant. Commission analysts prefer a more benign technology of drawing water from beneath the ocean floor, either through wells or “galleries” of buried pipe.

The idea involves sinking a pipe in the sea bed, akin to a fresh-water well, or excavating a wide area of ocean floor, lining it with pipes and covering it with sand. The pipes would be connected to the onshore desalination plant. The sand blanket would act as a natural filter for the ocean water, commission staff argues.

Commission analysts acknowledge that building such intakes is costly, but say the natural pre-filtering reduces operating costs. Poseidon estimates such an ocean-floor system would more than double the construction cost, to $650 million from $300 million, and could destroy 150 acres of seafloor.

Although this technology has never been used on the scale envisioned for Carlsbad, the Coastal Commission staff points out it has been used on small-scale projects in the state. Poseidon plans to draw 100 million gallons of seawater a day as it leaves the Encina Power Station, filter it and force it through reverse-osmosis membranes to produce 50 million gallons of drinking water. The other 50 million gallons would be returned to the cooling stream and on to the ocean twice as salty as when it came in.

The San Diego County Water Authority also is studying the feasibility of a desalination plant at Camp Pendleton.

New List Ranks Driest US Cities, California Cities Hold Top 4 Spots

A new study by livability expert Bert Sperling that measures the drought severity for the 100 largest metro areas in the United States shows that two of North San Diego County’s cities rank among the top four driest cities in the nation.

Nearly 200 million people reside in these 100 metros, comprising nearly 60 percent of the U.S. population.

"This drought is having a deep and lasting effect on the choices regarding where we will want to live in the future," Sperling said. "The crisis has been growing slowly, but it is finally getting attention in the national spotlight."

Topping the list was Los Angeles, with its recent annual rainfall only 25 percent of normal. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metro area was joined in the top four spots on the list by other Southern California cities. Coming in at No. 2 was the San Diego metro area, which includes Carlsbad, Calif., and San Marcos, Calif., followed by the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metro areas.

Other top-10 driest cities include Salt Lake City, Nashville, Tenn., and Birmingham, Ala.

National Drought Effects

It's not just particular areas of the country that are experiencing droughts. Sperling said the entire United States is in the middle of a nationwide drought, producing a crisis that some scientists believe will have greater consequences than rising sea levels.

The devastating brush fires in Southern California are one side effect of this continuing drought. The Deep South is also gripped by a prolonged drought, endangering the water supply for the 4.4 million residents of the Atlanta area.

The effects can also be seen in the shrinking Great Lakes, Sperling said. The historically low water levels are threatening shipping commerce, he said. The Florida Everglades are also being affected by Florida's continuing water emergency, he said.

"Brush fires in California, the shrinking Great Lakes, Atlanta's dwindling water supply –- these are some of the effects we're seeing today from our nation's drought crisis," Sperling said. "Water shortages are projected to increase as our population grows and a warming climate produces abnormal precipitation patterns."

The study is based on the Sperling Drought Index, which Sperling created as a way for the public to easily understand and compare the severity of drought conditions.

Escondido Settles on New Sewer Rates

Escondido’s City Council has revised the Sewer Rates for both residential and commercial customers in an attempt to make the rates more equitable for all parties.

It was not a quick decision. City staffers and affected companies have been reviewing the numbers and debating the issue for almost two years.

In the end, the new rates will infuse Escondido’s city coffers to the tune of $1.6 million per year, which funds will be applied to the city’s Hale Avenue sewer treatment facility. Had they not received these new rates, officials claim they would have suffered long term deficits.

An initial panic set in when the city announced plans to go for dramatically higher rates for businesses that put a greater strain on city sewer facilities. That shock has subsided somewhat, however, as businesses looked at the numbers and agreed increases were warranted and necessary. That doesn’t always make the economic pain go away, however. Two major indurstries, Stone Brewing and Palomar Medical Center will both see extremely dramatic increases. In the case of Stone Brewing, their rates would have jumped from a modest $860 to $10,904, based on city estimates. They have been given a six-month exemption. Greg Koch, co-owner of Stone, told the council he might not have moved his brewery from San Marcos to Escondido had he known about the rate change.

When the new rates take effect Jan. 1, monthly bills for typical residential customers will increase 9 percent, from $34.50 to $37.65. The county average for residential customers is $52.41 per month. The average commercial sewer bill in Escondido will increase from $203.24 to $338.30, while the county average is $416.12 per month.

Carlsbad Optimist Club To Host Xmas Party for Children Who Have Lost Their Fathers in the Iraq War

The party for “Guide-On” will be held on Sunday, December 9, 2007, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Saturn of West 78, 2205 Vista Way, Oceanside, CA.

Please contact Linda Gans at (760) 730-0703 for details. For membership information call Mike Doody, President: (760) 445-1490 or Joe Tosto, Vice President: (760) 729-3445. The Optimist Club of Carlsbad has meetings on Saturday mornings, 8am-9am, and meeting a quarter in the evening at the El Camino Country Club, Oceanside, Ca. Guests always welcome at all Optimist functions.

For membership information call Mike Doody, President: (760) 445-1490 or Joe Tosto, Vice President: (760) 729-3445.


Wounded Warrior Barracks, Horshoe Pit, constructed by Optimist Club for Wounded Veterans. L-R: Leo Fradelis, club member; Sgt. L.R. Sommer and his son Kyle Sommer; Bob Ogden, who suggested project and
Bert Prichard, Optimist club member.

Chrsistmas Party, 2006: Henry Heller, club member, Santa, and Steve Pettersen, club member and professional entertainer
at last year’s Christmas project.





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