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By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  (Back Row, left to right) GHD board members Virginia Hall and Randy Lenac, Jan and Chuck Vermillion, GHD board member Michael Emerson, Shawn Kelley. (Front Row, left to right) Rick Doremus, Dee Davis, Ally Kellogg, GHD board member Bob Ayres and Gloria Chadwick.

June 4, 2018 (La Mesa) – The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD), a public agency that supports various health-related community programs and services in the East County region recently honored local volunteers with its 2018 Healthcare Heroes awards. Now in its 12th year, Healthcare Heroes is GHD’s annual awards program honoring volunteers helping to advance the delivery of quality health services in the East County region.

This year’s honorees included a family practice physician who helps those not able to afford health insurance, two volunteers who provide one-on-one comfort following crisis events, a 23-year-old who spends part of her weekends in a hospital emergency room, a couple who drives people to their cancer treatments and a non-profit board member who has volunteered for the past 20 years.

“The purpose of the Healthcare Heroes Awards is to recognize volunteers whose unsung work in healthcare might not otherwise be celebrated,” said Michael Emerson, GHD board president. “We are proud to recognize the 2018 winners and their inspiring commitment to caring for others.” This year’s winners included:

  • Dee Davis, owner of her own mechanical engineering company, is a volunteer with the Center for Community Solutions of San Diego on its Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). Davis travels from her home in Alpine often at night to various medical facilities in the county where forensic exams are underway with survivors of rape, sexual assault or domestic violence. In a private exam room, accompanied by healthcare and law enforcement personnel, Davis provides emotional support, counseling, advocacy and referrals to people who may be experiencing the worst day in their lives.
  • Rick Doremus, retired airline industry executive and San Carlos resident, has volunteered since 1995 as a board member of the Home of Guiding Hands (HGH), an El Cajon-based non-profit that provides services, training and advocacy to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families. On the HGH board, he has held every executive committee position, including board president, VP, treasurer and secretary, and served on several committees, including business management, facilities, investment and capital campaign. Doremus also played a key role in recruiting Randy Jones to become involved with HGH, a former San Diego Padres pitcher who now has an annual HGH 5k run-walk fundraiser named in his honor.
  • Shawn Kelley has owned Valley Automotive, an El Cajon auto repair shop, since 2001. Kelley provides crisis intervention following a tragedy as a volunteer for Trauma Intervention Programs (TIP) of San Diego. Within roughly 20 minutes of getting the call, Kelley will travel from El Cajon to the scene of a crime or tragic accident to provide compassionate support and consolation to “secondary victims,” including traumatized witnesses, friends and family members, who are suffering and need immediate help with facilitating their healing and long-term recovery.
  • Ally Kellogg, 23, works as an emergency medical technician (EMT) for a private company. She’s planning a career in healthcare, perhaps in physical therapy or as a physician’s assistant. But, on Saturdays, she volunteers at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in the hospital’s Emergency Department (ED), considered one of the busiest in the state. Her role is to calm anxious visitors whose loved ones are undergoing assessment and treatment behind the darkened glass doors. She also trains other ED volunteers at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.
  • Dr. Tryna Ramos is a family practice hospitalist -- a doctor who cares for patients admitted to the hospital -- at Kaiser Permanente’s San Diego and Palomar medical centers. She also volunteeres twice a month in El Cajon for the past eight years at Volunteers in Medicine (VIM), a non-profit that brings together medical professionals and patients who do not have health insurance. Ramos is among more than 100 professional volunteers, including retired doctors, nurses and support staff, who donate thousands of hours in providing primary care services to more than 2,000 patients annually at the East County VIM clinic in El Cajon. Ramos serves mostly in primary care and women’s health at VIM. She also mentors college students studying for a career in healthcare and volunteering at the clinic. Ramos also has served on medical missions to Haiti, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic.
  • Chuck and Jan Vermillion of Spring Valley have been married for 53 years. The retirees are both volunteers for the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) “Road to Recovery” program, which offers free rides to weekday medical appointments and treatments for someone dealing with cancer. Some rides over the past year have totaled up to 120 miles in distance. Some patients are talkative, others are contemplative and quiet, but all are grateful. Jan is a breast cancer survivor. Chuck is a retired San Diego Police Department traffic patrolman who knows well the streets and freeways in the county. The Vermillions also participate in East County’s Relay for Life, a 24-hour fundraiser featuring cancer survivors and supporters taking turns walking around a track in honor of those fighting cancer and loved ones lost to the disease, while raising money for the American Cancer Society.

Awards were presented at a luncheon on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at the Sycuan Golf Resort in El Cajon.

Photo, right:  The Grosmont Healthcare District’s 2018 Healthcare Hero award winners. From left to right: Ally Kellogg, Rick Doremus, Chuck and Jan Vermillion, Shawn Kelley, Dee Davis. Not shown: Dr. Tryna Ramos.

GHD, formed in 1952 to build Grossmont Hospital, is a public agency that owns the hospital’s buildings and property on behalf of local taxpayers. Since 1991, GHD has leased the hospital’s operations and management to Sharp HealthCare via a public-private partnership. The District is governed by a five-member board of directors, each elected to four-year terms, who represent more than 500,000 people residing within the District's 750 square miles in San Diego's East County. For more information about GHD, visit

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