Long Time Neighborhood Healthcare CEO Retiring, New CEO announced

Long Time Neighborhood Healthcare CEO Retiring, New CEO announced

CEO Tracy Ream

Neighborhood Healthcare's New CEO Rakesh Patel, MD, FAAFP, CPE

After 31 years of serving as Chief Executive Officer of Neighborhood Healthcare (formerly called Escondido Community Clinic), CEO Tracy Ream announced that she will retire on October 31, 2017.

During her tenure, Ream has led the nonprofit community healthcare agency that started from a small office provided by the City of Escondido for a dollar’s rent per year to a two county 12-site health system serving 67,000 low-income and uninsured patients a year.

Its 12 health centers are located in San Diego and Riverside Counties with its 12th center – The Gold Family Health Center --opening in Poway next year.

The agency’s annual budget has grown to $68 million and it employs 650 people.  During that time, Neighborhood Healthcare has expanded its services to include not only medical care but also dental, behavioral healthcare and chiropractic care.

Various educational programs to encourage healthy lifestyles are offered as well as teen wellness clinics. This program helps local teenagers address healthcare issues and includes screening for depression. Teens discuss traits of healthy relationships and staff teach interested students how to prepare for a college education.

Onsite pharmacies and labs are offered to better serve its patients and newer services include a Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) program that was created in response to a national epidemic of opioid abuse resulting in overdose and early death. Other innovative services include gang-related tattoo removals to offer former gang members a second chance at life thanks to the laser equipment funded by a grant from Bill Horn, San Diego County Supervisors.

Recently, Neighborhood Healthcare’s Board President Johnny Watson announced to staff that the Board of Directors had selected Rakesh Patel, MD, FAAFP, CPE to serve as Neighborhood Healthcare’s new CEO after the board had worked with a national recruitment firm to find the best candidates.

 “We are confident Dr. Patel is the best choice to lead the organization and achieve its future goals,” said President Johnny Watson who has served on the board since 2006.

“The Board of Directors,” he continued, “chose Dr. Patel because we feel he is uniquely qualified by his management experience and education to continue the leadership and growth Neighborhood Healthcare has enjoyed in the past.”

Dr. Patel has worked at Neighborhood Healthcare for 15 years and currently serves on Neighborhood Healthcare’s Executive Team as Medical Director of Operations.

He first started working as a family physician for Neighborhood Healthcare in 2002 and later spent much of his time caring for the Middle Eastern refugee population seeking care at Neighborhood Healthcare ~ El Cajon. Over the years, he has moved into more administrative leadership roles.

He is a board-certified family physician who completed his residency at Scripps Family Practice Residency in Chula Vista. He received his MD from the Medical College of Wisconsin and he recently became a Certified Physician Executive.

Dr. Patel is in the process of completing his MBA at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Isenberg School of Management and is active in community advocacy. He also serves as a delegate to the County Medical Association as well as on the San Diego County Medical Society Board serving as the East County Region Director.

Dr. Patel will assume leadership on November 1, 2017.

“As I look back over the past three decades, I’m proud that I was able to contribute to increasing access for vulnerable populations. It was wonderful to work with such a passionate staff and board of directors who created innovative ways to care for our patients in a way that many times valued our patients’ needs over the agency’s needs or convenience,” said Ream.

“Our reputation as a compassionate and competent healthcare agency is why we have been so successful in building important partnerships the past 30 years including loyal and generous individuals and organizations who have stood by our side as we took risks, asked for funding and grew beyond our wildest imagination,” continued Ream.

“I am honored and thrilled to serve as Neighborhood Healthcare’s next CEO,” said Rakesh Patel MD. “I come into this role knowing that I am supported by the hardest working and most compassionate employees, leadership and Board of Directors out there. It’s an exciting time in healthcare and I know the communities we serve can count on us to continue Tracy’s legacy of compassion, financial strength and innovation,” he concluded.


Neighborhood Healthcare

Timeline of Neighborhood Healthcare’s

Growth and Successes

1969: Neighborhood Healthcare (Escondido Community Clinic) founded by a group of local Escondido volunteers.

1986: Neighborhood Healthcare hires Tracy Ream to serve as Executive Director.

1987: Services expand to include prenatal care and increased hours for dental care for children. 

1989:  Because of an extraordinary demand for its services, Neighborhood Healthcare outgrew its original health center and renovated a retail building on Elm Street in Escondido thanks to financial assistance from Palomar Health.  The center offered prenatal care, vaccines, and a safety net for those without health insurance.

1995:  In partnership with Palomar Health and Escondido Women’s OB/GYN group, started a nurse midwife program for comprehensive prenatal, deliveries, and postpartum care for low income women. 

1995:  In response to the HIV crisis, opened an adult medicine office in Escondido specializing in care to the HIV population, under the expertise of Dr. Daniel Harrison, an internal medicine MD who specialized in treating the exploding population of HIV positive individuals.  He served as one of the few physicians in the North County willing and able to work with this population at the time. 

1995:  Neighborhood Healthcare started its first Health Promotion Department to provide outreach and education in the community, and to extend wellness opportunities for patients. 

1996:  Assumed operation of a health center in Temecula from another nonprofit agency, expanding prenatal, pediatric, and adult care. 

1996: Established the Ernest B. Allen Endowment thanks to a $200,000 bequest from a local Valley Center dairyman. 

1998:  In partnership with the community and Palomar Health, brought healthcare services to agricultural workers and low income families in rural Pauma and Pala Valleys.

1998: Provided management services to 3 community health centers in East County when they lost their leadership, enabling them to continue serving as the main safety net in East County. 

1999:  Conducted a successful capital campaign with Interfaith Community Services to build the Ray M. Dickinson Wellness Center in Escondido that houses Interfaith and Neighborhood Healthcare services.

2000:  To better care for patients, created a Hospitalist program at Palomar Health to admit and follow patients in the hospital. 

2002: Merged the East County community health centers in Lakeside, El Cajon and La Mesa with Neighborhood Healthcare and became designated to receive federal funding for the first time in the history of the organization. 

2005: Services expanded to include psychiatrists and psychologists to provide Behavioral Healthcare Serves for children and adults.

2006: Established a partnership with Champions for Health in San Diego County so patients could receive donated care from the Project Access program. From 2006 -2017, Project Access has provided Neighborhood Healthcare patients with needed surgeries, cancer care, CT and PET scans, MRIs and specialty office consultations. This care is valued at $3,450,000 and has saved hundreds of lives.

2008:  In response to the increased demand for geriatric services, purchased and renovated a building in Escondido to serve older adults.

2009: Received a bequest of $909,000 from Harold Fulton to provide care for children and others in need of healthcare. Enabled Neighborhood Healthcare to purchase and renovate a new center for its Temecula patients.

2014 - 2016: Opened two health centers in Riverside County in response to a growing need for care. Opened Neighborhood Healthcare ~ Menifee in 2014 and opened Neighborhood Healthcare ~ Devonshire located in Hemet, CA in 2016.

2015-2016:  CEO Tracy Ream elected to serve as the Chair for the California Primary Care Association’s Board of Directors. 

2016: Completed a successful $3 million capital campaign for The Gold Family Health Center that will open in Poway in 2018.

2017: Thanks to excellent leadership and generous donors, CEO Tracy Ream retires leaving the organization with an $1.8 million Endowment Fund.