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A New Outlook

Will Dean

A New Outlook

For Desert Healthcare District and Foundation Director of Communications and Marketing Will Dean, it’s all about showing up.

Words by Daniel Hirsch • Photos by Lani Garfield 

As seen in Issue 4 of DAP Health Magazine

Will Dean knows how to deliver a message to people. “It’s about meeting people where they are, whether that’s in their actual workplace, like the farm fields, or in their churches,” he says. 

Meeting People Where They Are

As director of communications and marketing for the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation, Dean’s job is to raise awareness about the efforts of the District’s partners to equitably advance health and wellness throughout the Coachella Valley.

For him, meeting people where they are takes many forms. It’s in standard communications work: relaunching a website, drafting press releases, updating social media. Or it could mean promoting farmside mobile clinics to ensure agricultural workers have access to vaccines, as Dean did for the District throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communication as Key to Healthcare Access

As Dean explains, health care access relies on communication — about what people needing care understand about their resources, and about what providers are able to hear from prospective patients. “Not everyone has the same opportunity to access care. There are barriers that people face, such as language barriers or lack of transportation,” he says. “Listening to people and their stories is so important to understanding why they may not seek care.”

Advocating for Equal Access

Dean’s ability to communicate on behalf of health care campaigns has benefited DAP Health. Since 1999, the nonprofit has received $3.5 million from the District’s grant program. This funding has supported everything from efforts to computerize patient records to running an HIV-testing van parked outside of gay bars.

According to former District CEO Dr. Conrado Bárzaga, Dean effectively advocates for equal access to health care because he’s committed to hearing directly from the people that benefit from it.

“He goes to the homeless encampment where we’re serving those community members… It really enhances the work, to tell the stories from a very truthful perspective,” says Bárzaga. “He’s someone who is always looking to do what’s right, to communicate in a very sensitive manner the importance of bringing equity to the distribution of health care.”

From Journalism to Healthcare Advocacy

Dean’s sensitivity for reaching people comes from a decades-long career as a journalist. It may also come from the acute understanding of the experience of not always being the recipient of the stories and media that one might want or need.

Growing up in the 1970s in Hardinsburg, Kentucky — a rural county seat with a population of roughly 2,000 people — Dean was a voracious magazine reader. He’d read anything he could grab, from Reader’s Digest to TV Guide. But as a young Black person who knew he was gay from an early age, Dean would rarely see himself reflected in the media he consumed. Copies of Jet and Ebony provided what Dean describes as “a variety of examples of Black excellence and possibility,” but finding Black LGBTQ+ stories proved harder.

The eye for good writing and deep appreciation for meaningful representation stayed with Dean throughout his journalism career, starting in his 20s at the Park City Daily News in Bowling Green, Kentucky and working for papers like the Savannah Morning News. 

After a mid-career Knight Fellowship at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Dean landed in Palm Springs for a community editor role at Gannett daily The Desert Sun. There, he fulfilled a dream he’d had ever since he was that magazine-devouring boy: running a magazine all his own. From 2012 to 2018, he edited Desert Outlook, a monthly LGBTQ+ publication published by his employer.

“It came about because our then executive editor, Greg Burton, called all the editors into a meeting and asked us if we thought an LGBTQ+ publication would work here,” says Dean. “And, if I recall correctly, everyone said no — except me.”

Starting in 2012, Dean ran Desert Outlook with a passionate meticulousness, leading a small team of writers and designers. The monthly printed stories on same-sex marriage and the migration of HIV patients to the desert. Dean fondly remembers interviewing actor Cheyenne Jackson, who gave Dean an equally memorable muscle-bound hug. It was a public-facing role that had Dean attending events multiple times a week— restaurant openings, political gatherings, theatre premieres, and more. 

“He had high standards, and he was very conscientious about basically everything he did,” says Michael Jortner, an Outlook contributor and longtime friend of Dean. “He would be on every photo shoot to make sure it was as close to what he was looking for. And it was the same with the writers.” 

Transition to Healthcare Leadership

After Outlook published its last issue in May 2018, Dean didn’t stop to rest. He started work at the District that June. He filled a position that has made great use of his journalism skills and editorial eye, overseeing the publication of the District’s first history book — telling the story of how the foundation formed in 1948 to build Palm Springs’ first hospital, only to grow to grant $80 million to local health care nonprofits. Working with Riverside University Health System, Dean is poised to launch a public health campaign about harm reduction related to fentanyl overdosing.

The demands of Desert Outlook and the District pushed Dean to take a “social hibernation” from the arts, culture, and community events that have so defined his time in Palm Springs. (Dean has also been on the boards of various organizations, such as Dezart Performs and Brothers of the Desert.) It’s a slow-down that Dean says he’s newly emerging from. Recently, he’s worked on his own writing projects, such as contributing a profile of jazz drummer Daniel “Big Black” Ray to Palm Springs Life.

Embracing Diversity and Inclusion

Dean is also launching a new, roving social club called The Mix Palm Springs, which focuses on fostering and celebrating diversity in social spaces. A recent summer camp-themed event at resto bar Reforma featured the lawn game cornhole (AKA bean bag toss) and s’mores. “It’s highly curated at the moment,” says Dean of this new venture, which is currently open by invitation only. “But that’s also part of ensuring that people know it’s a safe, welcoming space.”

Attention to detail. Respecting people’s needs. Showing up. All in a day’s work for Will Dean.

All in the Family

All in the Family

How spouses Andy and Johnny Glorioso found themselves both working in sexual wellness at DAP Health — and loving it.

 

As seen in Issue 4 of DAP Health magazine 

 

Words by Trey Burnette • Photos by David A. Lee

 

Andy Glorioso, who’s been HIV+ since 1986, has worked in HIV/AIDS social services for 23 years. In 2018, he finished his last day of work at San Diego’s largest clinic, jumped in his packed car, and drove out to Palm Springs. The next morning, he was at his new job at DAP Health, where he currently serves as PrEP navigation manager. 

While Andy was settling into Palm Springs, Johnny was relocating from San Francisco — where he’d worked for more than two decades as an E.R./trauma nurse — to similarly create his new desert home. He first discovered the Orange Clinic (as DAP Health’s Palm Springs sexual wellness clinic is known) as a patient. He has been on PrEP for five years, and still uses the clinic for quarterly checkups. From the beginning, he loved the availability of free services and the openness of providers. 

Both men understand stigma and anxiety are intricately linked to sexual behavior and health, and that normalizing frank talk about sex and sexual wellness is the first step in caring for their respective patients. Their mission is to empower through education.

After a patient tests negative for HIV, Andy can get them started on PrEP, the pre-exposure prophylaxis that uses antiviral medications to help prevent the spread of the virus. There are a variety of drugs available — some are daily pills; another is a bimonthly injection. Using a judgment-free attitude, Andy helps patients decide which path is best for theirs needs.

Using the same “come as you are” mindset, Johnny does patients’ PrEP follow-up, testing them for HIV and sexual transmitted infections (STIs). He soothes those who test positive for either, explaining treatment of the former and quick and easy cures for the latter.

“Once they leave the clinic, we don’t know what happens,” says Andy of the patients under the men’s care. “But every once in a while, I get an email that says, ‘Thank you. My experience and the information I received was life-changing.’ Then I know what we did — what we are doing —is working.” 

Though both had a connection to DAP Health, the two first met on a dating app mere weeks after each moved to Palm Springs. Their first chat was a long one. The next night, they saw a movie. Within a few months, they’d moved in together. Marriage happened six months after that, with Andy taking Johnny’s last name.

By 2022, Johnny was working as a sexual health nurse at The Dock, as the Orange Clinic was known when it debuted within the Barbara Keller LOVE Building in 2015. The space opened its rebranded doors in the newly renovated, former county structure christened the Annette Bloch CARE Building across the way in January 2023. The sexual wellness clinic in Indio was unveiled in July 2022. The two present clinics currently serve about 1,075 patients per month. In late 2023, a third DAP Health sexual wellness clinic will open at the Stonewall Medical Center in Cathedral City.

It’s not just within the walls of DAP Health that the Gloriosos are making a difference. Part of the sexual wellness outreach team, they both participate at local events such as Pride, Leather Pride, International Bear Convergence, and White Party Palm Springs. The Orange Clinic has also partnered with several live-in rehabs in the valley, offering education and free testing.

And it’s not just at work that Andy and Johnny are peppered with questions about sexual wellness. They’re social, and people know what they do for a living, so friends and acquaintances aren’t shy about seeking professional advice, either face to face or via Facebook Messenger. The men are more than happy to bring interested parties into the DAP Health family. 

The couple loves living in Palm Springs and working at DAP Health. They were drawn to the city and the organization for their respective progressive attitudes and values. DAP Health, like the men, cares about community. They agree the nonprofit is different from any other place they’ve worked — or visited as patients. “We treat and educate people, at no cost to them, all without an ounce of shame,” says Johnny, adding that birth control, pregnancy testing, and other support services are also available. “It’s work that each of us takes to heart.”

Then there’s the fact that they’re always near each other from nine to five. “The real joy for me is seeing my husband throughout the course of the day,” says Andy. “We generally have a good time together, so we also have fun together at work.”

“Except when the natural way we relate to each other in private spills over,” adds Johnny with a wink and a smile. “To give you an example, when I was gone for a few hours recently, Andy apparently decided to clean out all of my work drawers the way he thought they should be. And when I came back, I couldn’t find anything — just like at home!”

DAP Health Opens Third Free Sexual Welln …

DAP Health Opens Third Free

Sexual Wellness Clinic

 

Joining existing clinics in Palm Springs and Indio, the latest facility — headquartered at Stonewall Medical Center in Cathedral City — will emphasize services for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, including those seeking gender-affirming navigation and care.

 

On Tuesday, December 12, DAP Health will officially open the doors to its third free sexual wellness clinic, this latest outpost to be headquartered at Stonewall Medical Center, located at 68555 Ramon Road in Cathedral City.

Thanks to the nonprofit’s absorption of the Borrego Health system almost six months ago, its capacity to provide sexual health services to women and to LGBTQ+ people (including those seeking gender-affirming navigation and care) has vastly increased.

DAP Health’s first such clinic was originally known as The Dock when it debuted within the Barbara Keller LOVE Building on the organization’s Sunrise campus in Palm Springs in 2015.

The Dock was renamed the Orange Clinic in January 2023, when it relocated to the newly renovated, former county structure now known as the Annette Bloch CARE Building, across the way from the LOVE Building.

A second sexual wellness clinic, in Indio, was unveiled in July 2022. The two present clinics currently serve almost 1,100 patients per month.

Sexual health is of prime import to DAP Health. Just some of the organization’s achievements in this area include:

  • The Dock initially charging a flat fee of $125 for those without insurance, a significant step in increasing access. All sexual wellness clinics now offer most HIV and STI testing, and related services, at no cost.
  • Its June 2020 licensing of a mobile medical unit for STI testing.
  • Its July 2021 establishment of free sexual wellness services.
  • Its 2023 Creativity & Innovation Award, from the Inland Empire Health Plan, for its 2022 mpox response.
  • Its 2023 Center for Quality Improvement & Innovation Quality Award for Leadership in Quality Improvement of its Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.
  • A partnership with gay dating app Mistr to provide statewide virtual PrEP and virtual HIV care.
  • The reduction in wait times so that anyone with HIV — or anyone wanting to start PrEP — can obtain medication within 72 hours.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) recent announcement of the recipients of its 2023 Community Health Quality Recognition (CHQR) badges, which recognize outstanding health center performance in a variety of clinical areas, including behavioral health, maternal health, cancer screening, and HIV prevention and care, as well as overall quality performance. DAP Health was one of eight health centers recognized, in the HIV prevention and care category. 

In the nine months since its opening, the Orange Clinic has had:

  • 6,403 patient visits.
  • Almost 500 people started on PrEP for the prevention of HIV.
  • Almost 1,500 people treated for one or more STIs.

“With DAP Health’s free sexual wellness clinics in Palm Springs and Indio at capacity, there clearly was sufficient patient demand to support a third location,” says DAP Health Chief of Community Health C.J. Tobe. “When we factor in the continued rise of sexually transmitted infections, duplicating our Orange Clinic model — where a free sexual health clinic is located at the same site at which DAP Health provides ongoing general clinical services — simply makes sense.”

Formerly part of the Borrego Health system, Stonewall Medical Center has long provided quality and compassionate health care to both the LGBTQ+ community and members of the general population. Its infectious disease specialists focus on patients with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and STIs. Stonewall also provides transgender health care, PrEP and PEP HIV prevention, behavioral health, and dental services.

As is the case in Palm Springs and Indio, Cathedral City’s sexual wellness clinic at Stonewall will be open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with a one-hour lunch break closure for staff between 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

All services will be free, and will include:

  • HIV / hepatitis C / STI testing.
  • STI treatment.
  • Pregnancy testing.
  • Birth control.
  • PrEP & PEP for HIV prevention.
  • Doxy PrEP and PEP for STI prevention.
  • A patient’s first two RapidStART visits once diagnosed with a new HIV infection.
  • The JYNNEOS vaccine to prevent mpox.

Serving on staff will be:

  • Director of Specialty Programs Dr. Jason Halperin, whose focus will be on gender-affirming care as well as on those living with, or at risk of, contracting HIV.
  • Director of Gender Health and Wellness Jacob Rostovsky.
  • Gender Health and Wellness Manager Mita Beach.
  • Gender Health and Wellness Navigator Mateo Williamson, who will provide linkage to gender-affirming care, and assistance with transportation, insurance, medication coverage, housing/wellness/food referrals, and other support.
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Brandi Teegarden.
  • Sexual Wellness Registered Nurse Jody Cap.
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse/Prescription Coordinator Tiffany Burdett.
  • Early Intervention and PrEP Specialist Alexis Rocha, who will provide linkage to care and support for HIV and hepatitis C patients, and assistance with transportation, insurance, medication coverage, housing/wellness/food referrals, and other support.
  • PrEP navigators who can provide help with transportation, insurance, medication coverage, housing/wellness/food referrals, and other support.
  • Patient Service Representative Jadira Hernandez, who will help with scheduling, take incoming phone calls, and facilitate patient check-in and checkout.

“It’s always all about access,” continues Tobe. “Having a new free sexual wellness clinic provides folks in and around the Cathedral City area a place closer to home where they can access no-barrier, no-red-tape, no-shame, and no-stigma sexual wellness care.”

He adds: “While the sheer existence of this new sexual wellness clinic makes me very happy, I think I’m most excited to be able to offer a gender health and wellness team at Stonewall, whose lifesaving gender-affirming care navigation services will be entirely free and accessed through the new sexual wellness clinic as well.”

“Trans health care isn’t typical health care,” says Gender Health and Wellness Manager Mita Beach, who identifies as nonbinary and queer, in the just-released fall issue of DAP Health magazine. “Typically, when people go to the clinic, it’s because they’re sick or because they have to go once a year for a check-up.” But trans people often need to see a provider more frequently, especially if they are receiving gender-affirming hormone therapy, which needs to be monitored.

“People of trans experience and nonbinary communities have increased rates of HIV acquisition, especially those of color,” says Director of Specialty Programs Dr. Jason Halperin, in the same article. “We know that racism and stigma play the greatest role in driving these increased rates. Furthermore, when structures of power such as the police — or increasingly, legislatures — target and stigmatize communities, we will inevitably see worsening health outcomes due to exclusion.”

Halperin goes on to stress that DAP Health “must commit even more to this work. We must shine our light bright and far. Our clinics need to ensure easy and supportive accessibility to gender-affirming care. We must also continue to work in solidarity with those across our country.”

Those interested in making an appointment at Cathedral City’s new Stonewall sexual wellness clinic may call 760.969.5740.

DAP Health Makes Bid to Protect Health C …

DAP Health Makes Bid to Protect Health Care Access for 120,000 People

In line with its mission — and in tandem with longtime community allies Innercare and Neighborhood Healthcare — the Palm Springs nonprofit leads a life-saving alliance to acquire Borrego Health. 

 

PALM SPRINGS, February 5, 2023 – Palm Springs-based Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) DAP Health made a bid to acquire Borrego Health, which on September 12, 2022, filed for bankruptcy and solicited potential acquisitors to assimilate its clinics and assets. The proposed investment would be based on total enterprise value, assuming a debt-free, cash-free transaction.    

At its height, Borrego Health served 275,000 patients annually across its various sites throughout San Diego and Riverside counties. Today, the system continues to cater to an estimated 120,000 individuals a year. Through their shared commitment to care for all members of their communities, DAP Health, Innercare, and Neighborhood Healthcare formed an alliance and are joining forces to continue operating Borrego Health — with DAP Health acting as the acquirer in order to protect patient access to integrated outpatient services.   

“Our approach ensures patients who currently rely on Borrego Health for high-quality, culturally competent care would not experience an interruption in their service,” says DAP Health CEO David Brinkman. “With distinct service lines and expertise, all three alliance members are uniquely positioned to care for Borrego Health’s patients. Building upon longstanding relationships, and through strong leadership collaboration, our alliance has the experience, operational expertise, depth of management, and strategic foresight to be successful in this endeavor.”    

The winning bidder will be notified this week. In hopes that the Borrego Health board of directors selects its bid proposal, the alliance has developed a comprehensive three-year operational plan that would allow for stabilization, optimization, and ultimately, growth of the current Borrego Health system.    

The initial steps would focus on the stabilization of the clinics, with a substantial investment of managerial time and material investment in the system. Employees at DAP Health, Innercare, and Neighborhood Healthcare would not see a change in their employment terms, benefits, or compensation resulting from this process. Rather, the alliance intends to make significant investments to retain the current staff of Borrego Health and to reinforce Borrego Health teams by addressing staffing shortages while bringing the current system up to a higher standard of staffing ratios and workflows.   

“Speaking for the remaining few founders and myself, it’s very rewarding to observe how this current outreach resonates with the agency’s nearly 40-year heritage,” says inaugural Desert AIDS Project Executive Director George Sonsel. “Through the decades, DAP Health has consistently demonstrated its perpetual readiness to share its expertise and professional guidance in support of the community’s needs.”   

About the Alliance  

Founded in 1984 as Desert AIDS Project, DAP Health was the first community-based clinic dedicated to serving low-income patients with HIV/AIDS. In 2012, it was designated as an FQHC Look-Alike, in 2015 became a 330 grantee, and today serves the general community with a full complement of integrated and lifecycle-appropriate care. DAP Health’s service area boundaries are located within the Coachella Valley, a unique desert community located in Eastern Riverside County in the Inland Empire of Southern California. The Coachella Valley comprises nine major cities as well as several unincorporated areas. The valley encompasses approximately 675 square miles, and its service area includes 310 square miles. CEO since 2006: David Brinkman.   

Established in 1970, Innercare (formerly known as Clínicas de Salud del Pueblo, Inc.) is a private nonprofit FQHC operating 10 health care centers; five dental clinics; and three Women, Infant, and Children Programs in Imperial and Riverside counties. Its service area encompasses 30 rural and urban zip codes boasting a total population of over 680,000. This area includes communities along the U.S.-Mexico and Arizona borders. It also serves communities ranging in size from Niland (pop. 1,610) to Hemet (pop. 127,443). There is significant overlap in some of the areas currently served by Borrego Health, with approximately 21% of Borrego Health’s patients currently seeking secondary care at Innercare sites. CEO since 2003: Yvonne Bell.   

Founded in 1969, Neighborhood Healthcare operates 24 health centers in San Diego and Riverside counties, serving upwards of 87,000 unique patients each year, 97% of whom are at or below 200% of FPL. Some 61% identify as Hispanic and 41% are best served in a language other than English. With deep cultural understanding, Neighborhood Healthcare excels at providing health care for all stages of life, including pediatric and adult primary care, prenatal care, family planning, HIV testing, women’s health, dental services, and basic pharmacy and lab services. Due to a large and growing Middle Eastern refugee/immigrant population in East San Diego County, Neighborhood Healthcare has developed a strong culturally and linguistically responsive program to care for Arabic speakers. CEO since 2017 (but at Neighborhood Healthcare since 2002 as a physician): Dr. Rakesh Patel.   

Important Opportunities Presented by This Alliance  

  • DAP Health would be the acquirer of the Borrego Health system with Innercare and Neighborhood providing clinical, administrative and leadership services to the alliance.  Together, the managing organizations would bring deep experience with the patient population and strong relationships with key partners such as health plans, social services agencies, and elected officials.   
  • Many employees within the expanded network may wish to transfer to a site closer to their home, offering a retention incentive for current Borrego Health and partner clinic employees alike.   
  • Each organization has unique areas of expertise it brings to the alliance. This strong partnership allows for operational and clinical cooperation for the best possible outcomes for each unique site. Innercare has deep expertise in caring for migrant and farmworker populations as well as an established presence in many of the communities served by Borrego Health. Neighborhood Healthcare offers strength in primary and family health, with strong ties in the greater San Diego area. DAP Health’s outstanding care for LGBTQ+ patients, and HIV/AIDS patients, as well as its best-practice approach to culturally responsive and relevant services, rounds out this outstanding team of partners.    
  • With strong executive leadership, oversight, and compliance, all three of the partners in this proposal can lend executive support to various sites during the transition period as the system rehires and augments operations.   
  • Neighborhood Healthcare has already successfully transferred several former Borrego Health sites to its management. This direct experience would further inform and strengthen the alliance’s approach to assuming operations for the remaining Borrego Health sites.   

DAP Health’s priority in acquiring Borrego Health is to ensure that all existing sites remain open; that services are stabilized, optimized, and expanded; and that every aspect of operations is culturally and regionally appropriate to its respective communities. Given the wide footprint of the Borrego Health system, DAP Health is honored to partner with longtime ally organizations Innercare and Neighborhood Healthcare to realize the goal of providing highly effective, compliant, and culturally tailored care throughout the region.    

“For almost 40 years, DAP Health has been dedicated not only to keeping its doors open but to extending them even wider so that an ever-expanding number of community members in need can be cared for,” concludes Brinkman. “The alliance we’ve formed with Innercare and Neighborhood Healthcare — two local organizations with similarly very deep roots in the communities Borrego Health has served — ensures that nearly 120,000 patients would not see health centers they’ve grown to depend on be shuttered by an acquisitor less familiar with and committed to our neighbors in need.”   

 

Media Contact:  

Steven Henke, DAP Health Director of Brand Marketing  

Shenke@daphealth.org  

 

 

Walk Out Loud at Desert AIDS Walk 2022

THOUSANDS TO “WALK, OUT LOUD” FOR LGBTQ+ HEALTH EQUITY AT DAP HEALTH’S 2022 DESERT AIDS WALK 

What better way to remember those lost to HIV/AIDS than to unite as a community, raise our collective voice, and keep advocating for health equality, just as our brothers and sisters did at the start of the epidemic four decades ago  

PALM SPRINGS, California – Two thousand community members — from babies in strollers to seniors — are expected to participate in DAP Health’s annual Desert AIDS Walk, which will kick off at Ruth Hardy Park on Saturday, October 29, tracing a route through downtown Palm Springs. The theme of this year’s event, whose presenting sponsor is Desert Care Network, is “Walk, Out Loud,” which places its focus squarely on advocacy and on uniting the entire community in the fight for LGBTQ+ health equity. 

“Unfortunately, history is repeating itself,” says David Brinkman, CEO of DAP Health, an advocacy-based health care organization that provides service to more than 10,000 individuals annually throughout the Coachella Valley. “With queer rights falling under attack across our nation, and our government’s dispiriting lack of urgency in responding to the growing Monkeypox (Mpox) crisis, 2022 looks, sounds, and feels just like the early ’80s, when HIV/AIDS was decimating our community and politicians turned their backs, refusing to act. As we learned then, silence equals death, and when our leaders abandon us, it is up to members of our community to join forces and advocate on our own behalf. Only by coming out in unprecedented numbers and raising our collective voice this year can we show local, state, and federal officials that their apathy concerning LGBTQ people is absolutely unacceptable.”  

The Desert AIDS Walk registration will begin Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. for a 9:00 a.m. departure. The Health & Wellness Village sponsored by Walgreens will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Entertainers on the main stage will include The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus. 

The money raised thanks to the perennially popular pet- and family-friendly affair will go directly to fund DAP Health’s advocacy and health care efforts, with 2022 proceeds also benefitting a handful of community partners, including The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, Brothers of the Desert, The L Fund and Queer Works.  

An Enviable Track Record 

Ever since its inception in 1984, DAP Health has centered its work on advocating on behalf of populations whose voices are often unheard — people with HIV/AIDS, people of color, those living in poverty, unhoused individuals, and people with disabilities, and people struggling with substance use. Through it all, the organization has never wavered in its determination to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and today continues to: 

  • Offer free onsite and mobile HIV and STI testing, including mailing at-home HIV tests to those unable to access its main Palm Springs campus. 
  • Link people newly diagnosed with HIV to care — and help them remain in care — so that they can be undetectable, therefore unable to transfer the virus to others (U=U). 
  • Provide pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). 

As always, DAP Health’s day-to-day approach to health care is a holistic one. Its umbrella of culturally competent services encompasses: 

  • HIV/AIDS outreach, testing, and care 
  • STI outreach, testing, and care 
  • Primary care 
  • Mental health care 
  • Dental care 
  • Addiction treatment 
  • Medical case management 
  • Client wellness services 
  • Housing assistance 
  • Medical transport 
  • Food/grocery vouchers 
  • Social services 
  • Mobile and telehealth services 
  • Health insurance and Medi-Cal assistance  

The recent opening of a DAP Health clinic in Indio is proof of the non-profit’s ongoing desire to expand its reach into the East Valley.  

As always, no patient is ever turned away due to an inability to pay. 

Community Impact 

The positive effect of DAP Health’s continuous endeavors to improve the overall health of everyone living in the Coachella Valley has indisputably been considerable, and its recent Vision Forward: Building for a Healthier Tomorrow campaign has served as a roadmap toward ensuring health equity for every one of our desert neighbors. 

In 2021 alone: 

  • 8,298 patients were seen at DAP Health. 
  • 8,182 HIV tests were conducted, with 53 individuals being linked to HIV care following their positive diagnosis and 58 patients consulting for PEP. 
  • 4,698 patients accessed the organization’s mental health services. 
  • 4,100 patients accessed its dental health services. 
  • 2,431 substance use visits were completed. 
  • 2,924 Hep C tests were completed. 
  • 901 Hep B tests were completed. 
  • 1,558 STI appointments were scheduled, with 947 patients being treated for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. 
  • 1,029 patients received PrEP, including 359 new PrEP starts. 
  • 1,188 individuals attended its community health presentations. 

You can download a PDF of DAP Health’s 2021 community impact report.  

COVID-19 

The invaluable experience and expertise DAP Health has gained through its service to all residents of the Coachella Valley over the last four decades enabled it to be among the first to provide a life-saving local response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and beyond. 

Monkeypox 

Similarly, DAP Health leads all other local health care organizations in its aggressive, targeted strategy to combat the widening Mpox outbreak — an effective effort that stands proudly alongside that of other cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. The non-profit is not only continually advocating for increased assistance from local, state, and federal governments, but has secured a considerable number of Jynneos vaccine doses, which are immediately being used to inoculate community members most at risk.  

DAP Health’s Desert AIDS Walk Community Partners 

Below are statements of support from some of DAP Health’s community partners.  

“The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert is proud to partner with DAP Health and Desert AIDS Walk 2022 to advance LGBTQ+ health equity in the Coachella Valley,” says Executive Director and CEO Rob Wheeler. “The Desert AIDS Walk brings our diverse community together in a powerful statement of solidarity, action, and resolve. The Walk reminds us that the LGBTQ+ community continues to be disproportionately affected by HIV and that all LGBTQ+ people deserve dignity, equity in health care access, and to live long, healthy lives.”  

“At Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, we believe all people should have access to the health care they need to make the best decisions for their health, life, and future,” says Vice President of External Affairs Vernita Gutierrez. “LGBTQ+ people deserve to live full and authentic lives free from discrimination, judgment, and stigma. As health care providers, educators, and advocates, Planned Parenthood is committed to serving all people with care and respect. We are proud to work in collaboration with partner organizations and community members in the Coachella Valley to work together toward health equity for all.” 

“As Brothers of the Desert supports this year’s AIDS Walk, we are encouraged by its focus on health equity for traditionally underserved and overlooked people. Let us be mindful on Saturday, October 29, 2022, that every great march for progress, from African American rights to LGBTQ equality, started with like-minded individuals joining forces and taking that first step to lift communities in need.”

Desert AIDS Walk 2022 Sponsors  

Presenting Sponsor: Desert Care Network 

Health and Wellness Village Sponsor: Walgreens  

Major Sponsors: Gilead, NBC Palm Springs, Revivals Stores, The Desert Sun 

Event Sponsors: Hot Purple Energy, Koffi, Palm Springs Disposal, Sysco 

Media Sponsors: Alpha Media, Coachella Valley Independent, GED Magazine, KGay, Promo Homo TV,  Standard Magazine, The Hollywood Times Today

For Participants 

Individuals interested in participating in the 2022 Desert AIDS Walk: Walk, Out Loud may register at desertaidswalk.org.  

For Sponsors  

Businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities related to the Walk or to the Health & Wellness Village may learn more by contacting DAP Health’s Director of Development James Lindquist at jlindquist@daphealth.org or 760.656.8413. 

About DAP Health 

DAP Health isanadvocacy-basedhealthcenter in Palm Springs, CA servingover 10,000 patients, offering medical and mental health care, free STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab services. A variety of wraparound services enable patients to experience optimal health, including social services, support groups, alternative therapies, and other wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.  Click here to read more about our commitment to health equity.      

DAP Health opened one of California’s first COVID clinics and hotlinesto offer screening, testing, and treatment. DAP Health is also working to address social determinants of health that are causing negative health outcomes during this pandemic, like food and housing insecurity, joblessness, isolation, and access to ongoing health care. 

DAP Health’s sexual health clinics offer free STI testing and treatment, free Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) services, and free HIV and HCV testing. DAP Health has earned Charity Navigator’s highest ratingfor the twelfth consecutive year – landing DAP Health in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that DAP Healthexceeds industry standards in terms of financial health, accountability, and transparency.      

Visitwww.daphealth.orgto learn more.      

NEWS RELEASE 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

Contact: Steven Henke 

shenke@daphealth.org 

612 310 3047 

 

Monkeypox is an Emergency

A State of Emergency with a Solution: Prioritize LGBTQ+ Health Equity Today  

We went from 1 monkeypox case in May to 5,000+ preventable cases today. I am devastated by how many people are in horrific pain. Pain and suffering could have been avoided had the U.S. followed its own predictions and prepared to respond.

Since the 2003 U.S. monkeypox outbreak, experts predicted another. And as HIV and COVID taught us, an outbreak would dominate in marginalized populations who face barriers to health equity.   

We are now in a state of emergency as declared by WHO (World Health Organization) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.    

The emergency is the rapid spread, but that is not where the emergency ends:   

The emergency is that prior to this outbreak, the US had an effective monkeypox test, effective medications, and an effective vaccine, yet our highest-risk populations still do not have access to it.   

The emergency is that many people, presently infected with monkeypox, are experiencing severe pain; pain so significant that eating and eliminating waste requires pain medication and in some cases, hospitalization.  

The emergency is that even prior to this outbreak, organized political discrimination against LGBTQ+ populations has been steadily increasing.   

DAP Health was founded because many in power failed our community. While AIDS attacked us from one side, apathy, and hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community slowed the response, leaving us alone with a virus that robbed us of loved ones.   

It took until July 23 for the WHO to declare monkeypox a global health emergency - stating it was partly because the disease had not moved out of the primary risk group, men who have sex with men. Sadly, it should come as no surprise the US response remains slow and inadequate for LGBTQ+ community members worried about contracting monkeypox and to the thousands of people who have already been diagnosed.   

The only reason the monkeypox virus has not been contained is that the U.S. has yet to treat this threat to the health of gay, bisexual, and transgender people as the health emergency it is. New York and San Fransisco, both early in the response to HIV and COVID, have declared a state of emergency. Like DAP Health, they have been here before and they know that now is the time for a coordinated and swift response.   

DAP Health, with a patient population of 10,000, has only received 497 doses of vaccine and has yet to receive the TPOXX medication for treatment. Our nation’s LGBTQ+ community health centers, with a history of treating the community’s physical and mental health; with expertise in addressing stigma and discrimination, are most likely to reach those at risk for monkeypox, and yet, we are being overlooked and under-resourced.    

There is a solution to this health emergency:  

LGBTQ+ organizations should be the priority for vaccine supply and medications for treatment; because our approach strengthens the LGBTQ+ community. To end monkeypox, we must confront the discrimination in the US that has enabled this preventable crisis.   

LGBTQ+ health equity goes beyond a “shot in the arm.”  Our approach addresses the health disparities faced by LGBTQ+ communities by incorporating free HIV and STI testing and treatment, free PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) services, and access to affordable primary care, mental health, and substance use recovery.   

Every one of us needs to do our part. Let our elected officials know there is NO EXCUSE for another week of cases doubling while people suffer in excruciating pain. Let our elected officials know we are in a state of emergency and that the time has come to prioritize LGBTQ+ health equity. 

Here is an update about how we are prioritizing the distribution of the doses received and how we continue to respond to the current health emergency.  

DAP Health administered all 160 doses provided in our first allotment from the Riverside Department of Public Health.  

On Friday, DAP Health received 337 additional doses. High-risk DAP Health patients and community members who fit the current priority guidelines received an invitation to schedule an appointment for the JYNNEOS vaccine.   

DAP Health’s monkeypox hotline launched on August 1, and we are adding invitation-only Saturday vaccine clinics beginning August 6.  

DAP Health MPX Hotline: 760-656-8432 or MPOX@daphealth.org   

To stay up to date on the latest developments regarding Monkeypox please visit our landing page: daphealth.org/monkeypox 

 

Monkeypox

Anyone can get monkeypox.  It is important we do not create stigma during this current outbreak 

Transmission of monkeypox can occur with skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, but it is not an STI  

Mpox Vaccine and Testing At DAP Health

Need to get your Mpox Vaccine?  DAP Health’s Sexual Wellness Clinics continue to offer Mpox vaccines to the community at no cost, simply call to make an appointment for your vaccine today. Vaccination is highly recommended for prevention. No additional booster doses are recommended after you have received the two-dose initial series.

Having Possible Mpox Symptoms?  DAP Health’s Sexual Wellness Clinics are here to help you.  If you feel you may have Mpox symptoms and need to get tested, please call us today for a full STI screening including testing of Mpox lesions.

Call us today at 760-992-0492

Transmission  

Mpox is known to spread through prolonged close physical contact with someone who has symptoms.  

  • Rash, bodily fluids (such as pus or blood from skin lesions), and scabs are particularly infectious.  
  • Respiratory droplets, ulcers, lesions, or sores in the mouth can also be infectious, meaning the virus can spread through saliva.  
  •  Clothing, bedding, towels, or objects like eating utensils/dishes that have been contaminated with the virus can infect others. 
  • People who closely interact with someone who is infectious, including health workers, household members, and sexual partners are at greater risk of infection.  
  •  The virus can also spread from someone who is pregnant to the fetus from the placenta, or from an infected parent to child during or after birth through skin-to-skin contact.  

It is unclear whether people who do not have symptoms can spread the disease.  

Symptoms  

Symptoms include rash, headache, fever, muscle and body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and back pain. The CDC recommends that anyone with a new or unexplained rash get checked by a medical professional.   

Prevention  

While the vaccine is effective in preventing illness from an exposure, it is possible to still be infected.  However, symptoms generally are milder and the illness resolves in relatively shorter period than those unvaccinated.

Mpox can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact which includes sexual contact. Prevention includes avoiding physical contact with someone who knows they have Mpox or who has a rash or skin lesions that may be associated with Mpox.  

Testing  

If Mpox is suspected, diagnostic samples must be collected from the suspect rash.  The Clinician’s will take a swab of the fluid of vesicles, pustules, or dry crusts. Samples are sent to LabCorp for processing. 

Treatment  

Treatment is available through DAP Health in association with Riverside County Department of Public Health.  

Trusted Sources of News and Updates:  

California Department of Health  

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  

World Health Organization (WHO)  

Brothers of the Desert Empowering Black …

Brothers of the Desert Empowers Black Men and Allies in the Coachella Valley

On Feb. 7, Brothers of the Desert and Let’s Kick ASS will host a free online discussion, “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real – HIV and Black Gay Men.”

When chairperson Tim Vincent and the founders of Brothers of the Desert began their organization, it was a way to ensure black gay men would not feel isolated and have a group where they can bond. And in a short amount of time, Brothers of the Desert has emerged as a force in the Coachella Valley.  

Brothers of the Desert is a nonprofit that provides support for Black gay men and allies in the Coachella Valley through philanthropy, volunteering, mentorship, education, advocacy, and social networking.  

“When we were first meeting, we would go to a restaurant and there would be 10 of us and people would be like, ‘Is there a conference in town?’” Vincent says. 

One New Year’s Eve, they got together, and the group amounted to 20 men, all accomplished in different industries.  

“One person said, ‘This is nice that we are doing this.’ And looking around the room at who is in this group and what we have accomplished in our lives, we have a lot more to give than just socializing, hanging out, and connecting. Why don’t we make this a little more purposeful,” Vincent remembers. 

Since its birth in 2017, Brothers of the Desert has developed two signature events, the Wellness Summit in November, which DAP Health proudly sponsors, and the New Year’s Eve dinner-dance fundraiser. They also award scholarships to students and host a quarterly speaker series that covers topics such as practicing mindfulness, responding to systemic racism, acknowledging microaggression, and mental health and wellness for Black Queer communities.  

On Feb. 7, Brothers of the Desert and Let’s Kick ASS will host a free online discussion, “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real – HIV and Black Gay Men.” The special guest will be Corey Saucier, a Black queer HIV-positive poet, author, and playwright who will share some of his writings and his personal life story of living with HIV.  

The program will provide a retrospective on HIV in the Black Gay Community, updates on infection rates and treatment, testing and support groups, local resources, poetry reading, and music from Dr. Stephan Scoggins.  

“Vincent says Brothers of the Desert is creating a space for link-minded men in the desert, while also respecting the other organizations. Brothers of the Desert wants to be inclusive and supportive of its allies. 

“We want people to know that this is not an anomaly, that we are part of this community, and we are vital to this community,” Vincent says.  

Learn more about Brothers of the Desert by visiting their website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAP earns “LGBTQ Health Care Equality …

DAP earns “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Top Performer” Designation in Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index

Palm Springs, CA (September 3, 2020) -- DAP has earned “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Top Performer” designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC). The designation is in the 13th edition of HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), released in August. A record 765 health care facilities actively participated in the HEI 2020 survey. Of those included in the HEI, 193 earned an “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Top Performer” designation.

“When we started 36 years ago, HIV rights and the fight for medical access were synonymous with LGBTQ rights,” said David Brinkman, DAP CEO. “Opening our doors wider requires doing the work to always ensure that we hold ourselves accountable when it comes to honoring every letter in the acronym LGBTQ.” 

Every year, HRC recognizes the health care facilities that participate in the HEI for their dedication and commitment to LGBTQ inclusion. HRC also extends its deepest gratitude to these facilities for their courageous fight against COVID-19 and their commitment to addressing racism and injustice. As the final HEI surveys were submitted in March, health care facilities were kicking into overdrive to meet the challenges of COVID-19. Many faced a lack of equipment, staffing shortages and surging demand. Two months later, as the fight against COVID-19 continued, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers thrust America’s structural racism into the spotlight. HEI participants issued strong statements on racial justice and equity, participated in White Coats for Black Lives demonstrations and announced new programs to address racial inequities in their institutions and their communities.

In the 2020 report, an impressive 495 facilities earned HRC’s “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader” designation, receiving the maximum score in each section and earning an overall score of 100. Another 193 facilities earned the “Top Performer” designation for scoring from 80 to 95 points. With 90% of participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, health care facilities are demonstrating concretely that they are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ care.

The remarkable progress reflected in the 2020 HEI includes:

  • 92% of participants met the HEI's training requirements, completing more than 150,000 hours of staff training in LGBTQ patient-centered care.
  • 99% of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their patient non-discrimination policy.
  • 99% of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their employment nondiscrimination policy.
  • 53% of HEI participants indicated that their facility has a policy or policies that specifically outline procedures and practices aimed at eliminating bias and insensitivity, and ensuring appropriate, welcoming interactions with transgender patients.
  • After many years of trailing their corporate counterparts in the provision of transgender-inclusive health care benefits for employees, HEI participating healthcare facilities are nearly on par with the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) participants as 80% have at least one health care plan that offered this benefit. The latest CEI noted 85% of participants having such benefits.

In addition to active survey participants, the HRC Foundation proactively researched the key policies at over 1,000 non-participating hospitals. Unfortunately, the adoption rate at these researched hospitals stands in stark contrast to the near-perfect adoption by active participants. Among the researched hospitals in which we were able to find or obtain enumerated patient non-discrimination policies, only 67% have policies that include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” and only 63% were found to have an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. The equal visitation policy, at 93%, is the only one that comes close to matching the rate of the participating facilities.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the education arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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