Dr. Ted Chan wears many hats in his professional and civic lives. But a unifying theme is his desire to improve the health and well-being of San Diegans.
Chan, 50, a Carmel Valley resident, is chair of the department of emergency medicine at UC San Diego, a position in which he oversees the operations of three emergency rooms, along with the teaching of emergency medicine at the UCSD Medical School, and research programs. He also finds time to care for patients at the hospital system’s emergency room in Hillcrest.
On the civic side, Chan serves on the board of governors of the San Diego Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports a variety of charitable endeavors. One of the areas in which he has focused at the foundation is in disaster relief, and he played a role in providing assistance to families affected by the major wildfires that struck San Diego County in 2003 and 2007.
Chan oversees an emergency medicine program that serves some 130,000 to 140,000 patients per year, in San Diego and Imperial counties. Both locally and nationally, emergency rooms have been seeing a growing patient load, and studies are underway to learn more about usage patterns, he said.
Primary care doctors can be very important in helping patients manage their ongoing health issues, and determine when a visit to a clinic or emergency room is appropriate.
One resource for patients, he said, is the county’s 2-1-1 resource line, which can provide assistance on how to get enrolled in a health insurance plan, and how to find a provider.
In an effort to improve emergency care, UCSD recently sought and won an $11.8 million grant from the West Foundation, which will pay for a specialized emergency unit at the Thornton Hospital in La Jolla dedicated to serving people over 65, said Chan. The money will pay for construction of the facility, as well as training for staff and research of best practices.
“Seniors often do come to the emergency room with more complex health and social issues,” Chan said.
In his position on the San Diego Foundation board, Chan also considers the health and welfare of the community. The foundation supports a variety of programs, from the arts and education to the environment.
“The main thing is there’s a vision to use philanthropic dollars to improve our community and the lives of San Diegans on all sorts of different levels,” he said.
Among the work with the foundation that he is most proud of, said Chan, was helping families impacted by the wildfires, whether it was providing housing or scholarships for their children. The foundation’s disaster relief committee also contributed to environmental mitigation efforts in the wake of the fires.
The foundation disbursed $3 million in aid following the 2003 wildfires, and $10 million after the 2007 conflagration. The effort was so successful, he said, that the San Diego Foundation was asked to share its experiences and best practices with other foundations, becoming a model for the role that a philanthropic organization can play following a disaster.
He even got to meet former President Bill Clinton, Chan said.
“That was very gratifying,” Chan said.
Chan and his wife, Diana Loo, a high school teacher, raised two children in Carmel Valley, a son who now studies computer science at UC Berkeley, and a daughter who will graduate in June from Torrey Pines High School.
“There’s a certain community and family spirit in Carmel Valley, it’s very attractive to folks raising families,” he said.