Interesting times at hospital district


A presentation by Dr. John Anwar to Point Roberts hospital district board members at their regular April meeting held on Zoom led to some strong words being exchanged between him and the district’s current medical service provider, Dr. Sean Bozorgzad. Anwar had spoken at the board’s February meeting saying he was interested in offering his services as a service provider should the board decide to consider alternatives to the current arrangement.

At that meeting, Bozorgzad objected to chair Stephen Falk’s willingness to hear Anwar’s presentation, pointing out that by doing so, Falk was in contravention of the standard legal process hospital districts follow in Washington state when contracting for service providers. After asking if the board was dissatisfied with the service that his company SuperTrack Urgent Care was providing, he pointed out that the clinic had been operating with three MDs and a registered nurse when the contract only called for a nurse practitioner. In the April provider’s report, Bozorgzad told the board that they were in the process of hiring a second registered nurse in order to have full coverage during their days of operation and telemedicine on weekends. He added that the clinic was also expanding the list of medications that would be available to clinic patients.

“I’d like to start by introducing you to a wonderful team that we have been collaborating together,” Anwar said, kicking off his presentation with a slide of photographs of him and three others, one of whom was Deb Shields. Shields is a longtime resident of Point Roberts, is trained as a physician’s assistant and, along with her husband John, had previously attempted to win the clinic contract the last time it was opened to bids. SuperTrack had been the operator and continued doing so after the commission voted 2-1 in favor of its continued operation.

Anwar praised Shields saying she understood patient needs in Point Roberts and understood family, geriatric and women’s medicine. The other two members were another physician’s assistant and a billing and insurance specialist. Anwar listed his credentials, saying he was licensed in Washington state, Arizona and Canada. He said he was experienced in transitional care dealing with patients very recently released from the hospital and not yet able to see their primary care provider. He stressed the importance of the local clinic in preventing the re-admission of patients to the hospital. “We do not want the patient to go back and forth crossing international borders,” he said.

Following his presentation, hospital district superintendent Barbara Wayland queried Anwar regarding his ad in the All Point Bulletin that says he can see patients 19 years and older only due to the fact that he is an internist. “Our clinic sees patients of all ages, including pediatric patients, so as an internist, how would you provide care for these young patients,” she asked.

Anwar responded by saying that the physician assistants were independent practitioners who could treat pediatric patients. That assertion brought Bozorgzad into the conversation who said, “They are not independent, Dr. Anwar, they need a supervising physician. I have to speak because what you said was incorrect.”

Later, he raised Anwar’s hackles when he pointed out that Anwar had gone to medical school in the Barbados and asked if that was because he couldn’t get into medical schools in the U.S. and Canada. “This is absolutely not professional of you,” Anwar responded, adding, “This is totally unprofessional of you to label somebody who attended a foreign medical school as substandard.”

Following a suggestion by Elizabeth Mason that the discussion had gone off track, Bozorgzad related how SuperTrack had worked effectively with the fire district to run the Covid-19 testing and vaccination program. “We also do home visits. I have personally taken care of my hospice patients in Point Roberts. We are three MDs who come to Point Roberts and provide services here. If you haven’t heard this, Dr. Anwar, it’s true that many of our patients tell us that they have better access to care for appointments here at Point Roberts than they do in Bellingham.”

Commissioner Noel Newbolt asked Anwar about his time commitment to Point Roberts who replied that he was currently commuting to work in Phoenix but hoped to move his family up to the Point. Anwar came close to finishing up his presentation but delved back into the foreign medical school imbroglio, complaining that Bozorgzad should not have raised the issue. A few minutes later, Wayland pointed out that there had been many people attending the Zoom meeting who had hoped to weigh in on the matter but couldn’t. She suggested that they should send their comments by email to the district.

Once again, Bozorgzad was critical of the approach taken by Falk regarding the contracting of services. “Stephen, I’d like to say one more time. This is the second time that you and this commission has undermined our ability to bring services to Point Roberts. This is the second time that you are going outside of normal contracting issues.”

“I have been interviewing doctors to add one more physician to our crew for Point Roberts. As you know, the Point Roberts contract was only for three physician assistants, and now you have three MDs. This kind of action just makes the whole contract unstable, and it puts pressure on us. So please, Stephen, take note of my objection to this path that you have taken,” he concluded.

The district’s next meeting will be held Wednesday, May 8 at 7 p.m. at the community center and via Zoom.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here