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TODAY news for Thursday, April 14, 2008

Loma Linda University news

SAC–Norton inaugurates Richard Hart as president

Dr. Hart admires the framed photo that each member of the SAC�Norton family signed. Holding the frame is Cynthia Rollins, fund development manager, SAC�Norton.
Dr. Hart admires the framed photo that each member of the SAC–Norton family signed. Holding the frame is Cynthia Rollins, fund development manager, SAC–Norton.
With secret service agents at the ready and “Hail to the Chief” playing upon his arrival, Richard H. Hart, MD, DrPH, the newly elected president of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, entered the main hallway of SAC–Norton.

As he turned the corner into the lobby, the audience rose to its feet. With the red carpet rolled out, Dr. Hart made his way down the aisle flanked by an honor guard. This honor guard didn’t raise their weapons in respect; however, they raised their crutches.

Such was the special inauguration of Dr. Hart by the employees of SAC–Norton, the clinic that Dr. Hart founded to serve the needs of the underprivileged in the community.

After Dr. Hart was “sworn in” with one hand on the SAC–Norton operating manual, his “press secretary” fielded questions from the group of reporters in the audience.

“Is it true that SAC–Norton has been declared a wartorn zone?” asked one reporter who claimed her name was Katie Couric.

“No,” replied Dr. Hart, tongue-in-cheek. “But we are now a part of FEMA.”

After the mock press conference, Dr. Hart was able to sit down on his “royal throne” while employees from SAC–Norton took the podium and told their stories.

Several employees told stories of how they first met Dr. Hart, and how his commitment to caring for the underserved in the community led them to be committed to the same cause.

Many of the speakers broke down in tears as they recounted how much working at SAC–Norton meant to them.

Dr. Hart then took the podium and thanked the audience for coming and putting together such an enjoyable afternoon.

“This is what Loma Linda is all about,” he said. “Individuals like you who have committed to the mission of Loma Linda for the sake of those around you. Thank you for all that you do.”

SAC Health System currently includes three clinics—SAC–Norton, SAC–Arrowhead, and SAC–Frazee—all located in San Bernardino.

Nearly 12,000 individual patients are treated annually. Of that number, two thirds are medically uninsured and do not qualify for MediCal.

Each year, 3,000 visits are by patients from homeless families. Patients are 80 percent minorities, with 60 percent Hispanic. Women make up 64 percent and children account for 30 percent of the patients served.

Fifteen neighborhoods surrounding the three SAC Health System clinics are classified as medically underserved areas (MUAs), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

By Dustin R. Jones, MA

TODAY news for Thursday, April 14, 2008