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By Janis Russell

August 22, 2015 (Campo)- Mountain Health hosted its second back to school night for this year in Campo earlier this month. (Others were held in Escondido and Sherman Heights.). The goal of these back to school nights is to provide backpacks and school supplies to K-12 students served by its Mountain Empire family medicine location.

Most of these families live in poverty, so the school supplies are very beneficial for them. Besides the distribution of backpacks and school supplies, there was a BBQ dinner provided, games and activities. Over 700 backpacks have been distributed for all three locations.

There were booths from Mountain Health, Center for Community Solutions, and the Real East County Fire Safe Council in Campo/Jacumba Hot Springs/Lake Morena. The fire safe council also had visitors resource guide brochures for Jacumba/Hot Springs and a flyer for their community clean up days on Saturday August 29, September 26, and October 24 from 7am-2pm. The August clean up will be at the Campo community center, the September clean up will be at the Old Boulevard fire station, and the one in October will be at Jacumba community park.

East County Magazine spoke with Mary Parra from Mountain Health about this annual event that’s been held for the past 10 years.

Parra said Mountain Health promotes the event through social media (Facebook and Twitter), word of mouth in neighborhoods and flyers to patients and in the community. Senator Ben Hueso also promoted the event on KUSI TV.

Parra also mentioned their biggest sponsors are SDG&E and the California Chiropractic Association, but there were many other organizational sponsors and three individual sponsors. The association taught kids how to properly wear backpacks.

ECM also spoke with Mountain Health’s CEO, Judy Shapiro. This was the first year that Senator Ben Hueso partnered with Mountain Health for this event in Campo, and he brought along the California Chiropractic Association, which donated $4,000 for supplies. This was also the first year they held fundraisers in Escondido and at Sherman Heights.

“People really embrace this,” she said, adding, “Teachers have struggled with supplying kids.”

Shapiro mentioned that Mountain Health has another fundraiser coming up to raise money for their new 23,400 square foot building in Campo. The total cost is $10 million, and they have raised $8 million so far- $5 million in federal and $3 in USDA loans. The capital campaign luncheon will be held on October 8, 2015 at the Town and County Resort in Mission Valley. They are still looking for sponsors and underwriters. Their current building in Campo is small. This new one will be bigger, and will include extended primary care rooms, pharmacy, dental, and X-rays among other services.

During the event, Shapiro welcomed and thanked everyone for coming. She invited the Senator to come up and speak.

Senator Hueso said, “I’m very excited about the future of Mountain Health,” adding that his staff is available to serve his constituents. “My district is from the Pacific Ocean to Arizona. I have offices in Chula Vista and El Centro.” He invited people to call his offices whenever they need something.

Then Dr. Brian Stenzler from the California Chiropractic Association spoke. “Last year, Senator Hueso and the California Chiropractic Association created a resolution for healthy backpacks.” They want to make sure kids grow properly and do not have any spinal or shoulder problems as they get older.

Stenzler offered these tips for students. “When packing a backpack, make sure the heaviest books are near the back. Elementary school kids shouldn’t have backpacks that weigh more than 10% of their bodyweight. Middle school kids shouldn’t have backpacks that weigh more than 15%. Also, keep kids’ spinal alignment in mind,” he concluded.

Shapiro offered some final thoughts. “In September, Mountain Empire will be celebrating our 40th anniversary. We do this because we have a passion to serve… People keep asking me ‘When’s the new building going to be ready?’” Construction will start in October and hopefully will be completed before December 2016, she said.

You can visit:  to determine if your child has any spinal or shoulder problems.

For more information about Mountain Health visit or call (619) 445-6200.




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