Palomar Health in Escondido on Oct. 25, 2022.
Palomar Health in Escondido on Oct. 25, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Despite big campaign contributions from Palomar Health’s top staff to new candidates, incumbents held their seats in the Palomar Health Board of Directors race.

Palomar Health is a public healthcare district that operates Palomar Medical Center in Escondido and Pomerado Hospital in Poway. It’s governed by an elected seven-member board of directors. 

Incumbent Board Chair Linda Greer had an almost 50-point lead over challenger Carol Ware. Incumbent Laurie Edwards-Tate had a lead of more than 60 points over opponent Rod Jones.

Similarly, incumbent John Clark was almost 40 points ahead of challenger Alejandro Paz, and incumbent Michael Pacheco held an almost 7-point lead over challenger Robin Maxson, as of Thursday afternoon

Last month, Voice of San Diego reported that Palomar Health’s top executives, as well as the founder of the hospital district’s new medical group, had favorites in the board elections.

A review of campaign contribution statements showed the hospital district’s top staff and the new medical group’s founder were chipping in sizeable campaign donations to support specific board candidates, drawing criticism from community members who said it was a conflict of interest.

The development came more than a year after Palomar Health’s board of directors abruptly switched the medical group that provides Palomar Health’s doctors.

After decades of partnering with a medical group called Vituity, Palomar Health suddenly contracted with Emergent Medical Associates (EMA) and its subsidiary, Benchmark, to provide emergency physicians, hospitalists, intensivists and other staff for its hospitals in Escondido and Poway.

The move sparked protests and votes of “no confidence” from the hospital’s physicians who said they had lost faith in Palomar Health’s leadership and board of directors.

Now, residents think executive staff members were supporting the board members who supported them in the controversial contract change and new candidates that they think would align with them moving forward.

Greer received almost 30 percent of her total campaign contributions from Palomar Health COO Stephanie Baker, CFO Hugh King and CAO Ryan Olsen. She also received several other donations from members of Palomar Health’s senior leadership team.

Greer, along with Jones and Paz also received sizeable donations from a company called Palomar Hospital Partners, Inc.

Palomar Hospital Partners, Inc. was founded in April 2021 by Irv Edwards. Edwards is also the founder and president of Emergent Medical Associates (EMA) and the principal of Benchmark, the new medical groups that Palomar Health contracted with last year.

Members of Palomar Health’s executive team, as well as Edwards, have declined to comment.

According to the San Diego Registrar of Voters, there are more than 500,000 votes still to be counted in San Diego County. The next update will be posted Thursday evening.  

Tigist Layne is Voice of San Diego's north county reporter. Contact her directly at or (619) 800-8453. Follow her...

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