From the daily archives: Thursday, December 2, 2010

Congressman Bob Filner, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is pleased to announce that Congress has approved a resolution authorizing expansion of the Calexico land port-of entry (LPOE).  The resolution authorizes the General Services Administration (GSA) to reconfigure and expand the existing LPOE in downtown Calexico, California.

“At my request, primary POV inspection facilities will include 16 northbound inspection lanes and 5 southbound inspection lanes, instead of GSA’s original proposal of 3 southbound lanes,” stated Filner.  “This project will greatly improve the flow of traffic and pedestrians though the downtown Calexico LPOE.”

The project includes new pedestrian processing and privately-owned vehicle (POV) inspection facilities, a new headhouse to provide supervision and services to the non-commercial vehicle inspection area, new administration offices and a parking structure. The expanded facilities will occupy both the existing inspection compound and the site of the former commercial inspection facility, decommissioned in 1996 when commercial traffic was redirected to the newly completed LPOE six miles east of downtown Calexico.

The project will be constructed in two phases.  Phase I will consist of 10 northbound POV inspection lanes, a headhouse and site work necessary to accommodate those facilities on the sloping site.  Phase II will consist of the balance of the project including additional site work, a pedestrian processing facility, administrative offices, five southbound POV inspection lanes, six additional northbound POV inspection lanes and the parking structure.

The authorizing resolution was passed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on December 2nd.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved an identical resolution on November 30th.   The total estimated project cost is $298,250,000.  A total of $23,787,000 has already been spent on planning and design.  Congress must now appropriate the remaining funding for the project to begin construction.  GSA has requested $84,359,000 for construction in FY2011.


The San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross responded to three emergencies yesterday in our community.

At 11:35 a.m. the Red Cross helped three families affected by an apartment complex fire in Imperial Valley. The American Red Cross assisted 6 adults and 15 children by providing emergency assistance with shelter, food, formula, diapers, clothing, shoes, teddy bears and blankets.

The Red Cross Canteen Team responded to a SWAT incident at 12:17 p.m. by providing hydration and snacks to approximately 70 people.

The Red Cross responded to another residential fire at 1:42 p.m. affecting three adults and two children.

The San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter responds local emergency nearly every 28 hours. The majority of these emergencies are home fires. All Red Cross disaster services are free, made possible by voluntary gifts of time and money from San Diego and Imperial Counties residents. To make a donation to the American Red Cross San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter, please visit or call (858) 309-1200.

Home fires are on the rise nationally and are the most common disaster threat in the United States and the American Red Cross San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter urges you to get prepared.

Simple Steps to Prevent Home Fires

  • Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on each additional level of your home. If people sleep with doors closed, install smoke alarms inside sleeping areas, too. Use the test button to check each smoke alarm once a month. When necessary, replace batteries immediately. Replace all batteries at least once a year. Smoke alarms become less sensitive over time. Replace your smoke alarms every ten years.
  • Consider having one or more working fire extinguishers in your home. Get training from the fire department in how to use them.
  • Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your home.
  • Determine at least two ways to escape from every room of your home. Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor. Learn how to use them and store them near the window.
  • Select a location outside your home where everyone would meet after escaping. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.

This report, which is based upon information from law enforcement and complaints submitted to the IC3, details recent cyber crime trends and new twists to previously-existing cyber scams.

New Twist on Extortion/Hit Man Scam

The IC3 has received several complaints referencing a new twist on the  extortion/hit man scam, which is now targeting nannies and day care providers. The fraudster contacts the potential victims via email claiming their team was hired by a friend of the victim to “terminate” them. The fraudster demands amounts ranging from $150,000 to $250,000 to call off the hit and claims he will hand over a tape containing evidence as to who hired him once the amount is paid. The recipient is threatened with murder and the kidnapping of the children in their care if they fail to comply.

The majority of the victims had some affiliation with a nanny position and speculated that the fraudster must have obtained their contact information through an online classified ad offering their services as nannies. Others stated they had advertised online that they were seeking a nanny, while one victim was reportedly a day care worker.

Payment Processor Possibly Conducting a Ponzi Scheme

Since January 2010, the IC3 has received hundreds of complaints regarding a website that victims reportedly used to transfer money for the sales of firearms; however, the website has not allowed them to withdraw the funds after their merchandise was sold.

The website claims to be a payment processor to be used as an alternative to other familiar online payment transfer services and was created to allow for the purchase of items that others of its kind do not allow (e.g., firearms). The website encouragesconsumers to use their services by advertising that they send money to consumers or anyone with an email address, an individual can easily pay for anything using the web, and sign-up is free, quick, and easy.

The website appears to have been set up as a legitimate business but shortly after operations began, customers started experiencing funding delays. Ultimately, customers who received funds only received partial payments, and those payments were delayed by months.

Additional research indicates that the money submitted for transfer may have been fraudulently misappropriated. This scam appears to have become a Ponzi scheme with previous customers being paid by funds from new customers.

Fraudsters Preying on Individuals Who are Wanting to Adopt

The IC3 received information from law enforcement and complaints filed with the IC3 concerning an adoption scam. The scam is an attempt to collect personal information and funds from individuals seeking to adopt a child. Victims reported responding to on-line advertisements for adoptions, such as “Baby Needs A Home.” The operators of the site are fraudsters who claimed to have an overseas orphaned child in need of adoption. Preying on victims’ emotions, the fraudsters explained how they promised to care for the child after the mother’s death.

The fraudsters said they were not affiliated with an adoption agency because no such agencies exist in their area. Nevertheless, they asked the victims to send pictures of their family and to complete forms that required personal information such as Social Security Number and their mother’s maiden name. Fraudsters sent the victims a birth certificate and pictures of a child. One victim reported that the birth certificate appeared altered. Fraudsters told victims to send hundreds of dollars via money order, credit card, or wire transfer to a bank account for legal fees. The fraudsters claimed they would “ship” the child upon receipt of the funds. Instead, the fraudsters pocketed the money gained from the scam and provided no children for adoption.

For more information regarding online scams visit our Press Room page for the most current Public Service Announcements.


HealthGrades Study Finds Patients Treated at 5-Star Hospitals are 80% Less Likely to Experience a Major Complication

Brawley, CA (November …., 2010) – The recently released HealthGrades’ annual study ranks Pioneers Memorial Hospital among the best in the nation for achieving superior patient outcomes when performing total knee replacement procedures and repairing emergent hip fractures. HealthGrades, the nation’s leading independent ratings organization, evaluates patient outcomes for 5,000 hospitals. This research is the only comprehensive analysis based solely on patient mortality and complication rates focused on how well hospitals provide effective and appropriate care for their respective patients.

The public is demanding increased public reporting of quality measures, and recent government reform efforts support this call to action. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 40% of adults report that they believe there are major differences in hospital quality in their immediate geography. Additionally, since 1996, the number of consumers that indicated they would choose a hospital based on a high quality rating over familiarity has increased to 72% from 59%.

The hospital wholeheartedly supports all efforts to make its services available to the residents throughout the state and we are pleased to announce that Pioneers Memorial Hospital has been recognized for the following HealthGrades 2011 quality distinctions:

•        Rated Best in the Region* for Total Knee Replacement Surgery in 2011

•        Five-Star Rated for Total Knee Replacement in 2011

•        Five-Star Rated for Hip Fracture Repair in 2011

•        Ranked among the Top 15% in the nation for Total Knee Replacement in 2011

•        Ranked among the Top 15% in the nation for Hip Fracture Repair in 2011

*Region defined as El Centro, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area

This is not the first time Pioneers Memorial has received unsolicited third party validation for the quality of care that our facility provides.  In fact, in June the maternity care services at Pioneers ranked among the top 10% in the nation with the lowest complication rate in the region.  As the recipient of the Maternity Care Excellence Award™ it demonstrates the organization’s commitment to providing a safe and comfortable environment for our community residents to deliver their babies.  HealthGrades has recognized Pioneers’ and its medical staff with a Five-Star ranking four of the five most recent time period for maternity care services.

“We are again pleased to have our medical staff and Pioneers recognized for the ongoing com[d commitment to utilizing best practice research and evidence to provide patients with effective/ treatments,” stated Travis Calvin, M.D., Chief of Staff at Pioneers.   “As a long time surgeon here in Imperial County, it is important to know that the team at Pioneers continues to focus on quality care and the right new technology to support the needs of our patients” continued Calvin.

The HealthGrades study, the largest annual report of its kind, analyzed patient outcomes in nearly 40 million Medicare hospitalization records from the years 2007, 2008 and 2009. Among the findings related to in-hospital complications in this year’s study are:

  • Across all procedures in which complications were studied, there was an 80% lower chance of experiencing one or more complications in a 5-star rated hospital, like Pioneers Memorial, compared to a 1-star rated hospital.
  • Across all procedures studied, there was a 63% lower chance of experiencing one or more in-hospital complications in a 5-star rated hospital compared to the U.S. hospital average.
  • If all hospitals performed at the level of a 5-star rated hospital, 185,875 in-hospital complications may have been avoided among Medicare patients over the three years studied.

American households are now the second largest payer of health care services, second only to the federal government, and are outspending private business. So it is not surprising that patients are now consuming complex quality information that at once was only available to hospitals themselves.

“Pioneers is committed to providing superior quality of care along with an overall satisfactory service experience when patients select their organization,” stated Leo Haggarty, president, PMHD Board of Directors.  “Interdisciplinary teams continue to seek improvement based on best practice for core measurement and for patient satisfaction.  Our slogan “Pioneers. Here for Good.’ is based on our intent to be the best in all the healthcare services we provide,” continued Haggarty.

The new 2011 hospital ratings for all of the nation’s 5,000 hospitals are available for free to all consumers by visiting

HealthGrades Hospital Quality Ratings

HealthGrades’ hospital ratings and awards reflect the track record of patient outcomes at hospitals in the form of mortality and complication rates. HealthGrades rates hospitals independently based on data that hospitals submit to the federal government. No hospital can opt in or out of being rated, and no hospital pays to be rated.

For 26 procedures and treatments, HealthGrades issues star ratings that reflect the mortality and complication rates for each category of care. Hospitals receiving a 5-star rating have mortality or complication rates that are below the national average, to a statistically significant degree. A 3-star rating means the hospital performs as expected. One-star ratings indicate the hospital’s mortality or complication rates in that procedure or treatment are statistically higher than average. Because the risk profiles of patient populations at hospitals are not alike, HealthGrades risk-adjusts the data to allow for equal comparisons.

More information on the Thirteenth Annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America study, including the complete methodology, can be found at

%d bloggers like this: