Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and Palomar Health creating a legacy of quality health care

For 10,000 years, the ancestors of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians inhabited the lands now served by the Palomar Health District living in a spirit of cooperation with neighboring tribes and preserving the ecosystem for future generations.
Today the Rincon Band is continuing that tradition by committing almost half a million dollars to date to the Palomar Health Foundation to support healthcare in northern San Diego County.
“In tribal traditions, the individual has an obligation to care for others, besides just themselves. By taking care of each other, we have survived bad times and thrived in good times. An obligation to the community, as living value, determines the overall well-being of the tribe,” Rincon Vice Chairwoman Tishmall Turner said.
Recently the Rincon Band committed $300,000 to support the build out of the Emergency Department at Palomar Medical Center Escondido. The expansion will add 14 beds (27% increase) and 4,600 square feet of usable space in previously unfinished shell space (similar to an unfinished basement). The expansion is critical because as the only Trauma Center in San Diego North County the Emergency Department has been treating more than 100,000 patients annually in a space projected to serve 60,000.
According to Bo Mazzetti, chairman of the Rincon Band, being a good neighbor is an important priority.  “When we deliberated on a contribution to the North County that would make the biggest difference in people’s lives, medical care was first on the list. It was easy to decide on Palomar’s emergency care.  Convenient and skilled medical providers and modern technologies make the difference in life and death, and to help save a life, or heal pain and suffering, is one of the most important things anyone can do for another,” said the Chairman. 
“Palomar Hospital does that very well, and we want to help them keep doing it and meeting the increased demand.  We all, at one time or another, Indian and non-Indian, need emergency care for ourselves or our family, and at that very important time, we surely want the best care possible,”
Mazzetti added.
Palomar Health Emergency Room Director Dr. Jaime Rivas says the expansion will translate into better care and experience for patients.
“We’re grateful for Rincon’s commitment to improving healthcare in the region,” Rivas said. “Palomar’s Emergency Department is a critical piece of a complex operational puzzle to create more access to care.”
The expansion of the Emergency Department is not the beginning of the Rincon-Palomar Health relationship. It has existed for decades, according to Palomar Health Foundation Executive Director Jean Larsen.
“We have had and continue to have a mutually shared interest to create the best integrated bridge of care and services between Palomar Medical Center Escondido and the Indian Health Clinic,” Larsen said.
The Indian Health Council and Clinic, serving six North County reservations, is located on the Rincon reservation, in Valley Center, Ca.
The Rincon Band has 500 members, and governs a 6,000 acre reservation. Recognized since 1875 by the U.S. Constitution as a sovereign nation, Rincon has the executive, legislative, and legal authority to protect and promote the welfare of tribal members and has jurisdiction over reservation land. Tribal council members are democratically elected every two years. Economic studies show the tribe contributes an average of $255 million in economic impact to San Diego County yearly, according to Turner.
Through various business ventures, the largest being Harrah’s Resort Southern California, the tribe is able to give back to the community.
“It’s second nature, now that we have the ability, for Rincon to share our good fortune with the larger community. As neighbors, we are all family. We share the love of our family; we want those we love to be healthy and happy, and have access to quality care,” Turner said.
In addition to supporting the Emergency Department expansion, Rincon supported the campaign to build Palomar Medical Center Escondido in 2008 and has generously supported Palomar Health’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) for many years.
When making decisions on supporting non-profits, Turner says, “We look for organizations that make a lasting impact on our community as a whole.”
Together, Palomar Health and the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians are shaping the future of health care and creating a legacy for the entire community.
Photo Caption: From left to right: Palomar Medical Trauma Director Dr. John Steele, Rincon Council Member Steve Stallings, Palomar Medical Center Escondido Vice President Maria Sudak, Rincon Council Member Alfonso Kolb Sr., Rincon Vice Chairwoman Tishmall Turner, Rincon Council Member Laurie E. Gonzalez, Rincon Chairman Bo Mazzetti