Call: (760) 323-2118
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Call: (760) 323-2118
8am to 5pm Mon - Fri

DAP Health Acknowledged as an LGBTQ+ Hea …

DAP Health Acknowledged as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Top Performer 

June 27, 2022

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has released its 15th anniversary edition of their Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) and DAP Health is proud to announce that we've earned an “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Top Performer” designation. Among the 906 health care facilities that actively participated in the HEI survey, only 251 earned the Top Performer designation. 

The HEI 2022 report states that, "No one facing health concerns should also have to worry about receiving inequitable or substandard care because of their LGBTQ+ status." And in a press release, Tari Hanneman, Director of Health & Aging at The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), notes that “The Healthcare Equality Index, at its core, strives to ensure LGBTQ+ people are protected and affirmed by their healthcare providers and feel safe seeking services. Our HEI active participants are truly pioneering the healthcare industry by implementing robust, comprehensive LGBTQ+ inclusive policies that hopefully, because of their work, will become standard practice.” 

Carl Baker, DAP Health's Contracts and Program Monitor, explains that the HEI rating demonstrates to the general population, and in particular the LGBTQ community, that DAP Health is a safe space to receive medical, dental, and behavioral health services. "By 'Safe Space' I mean LGBTQ [with a strong focus on our transgender family] individuals will find a staff that is trained and, in large part, also members of the LGBTQ community." In addition, he adds that the HEI rating indicates that a clinic is free from judgement and stigma. "In general, people are hesitant to speak freely to their health care providers. However, if a patient is comfortable and feels welcome and accepted, they are more likely to follow their treatment plans, return for follow-up visits, and take their medications on a regular schedule. Also, when dealing with sexually transmitted diseases, it is imperative that patients are in a judgement-free zone and are not afraid to discuss their sexual behaviors, including drug and alcohol use." 

Since the survey is also employee focused, it looks at a facility's number of LGBTQ staff members, their training and employee benefits, as well as companywide celebrations and information on LGBTQ events and Pride. 

To determine which health care facilities are ultimately worthy of an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equity Top Performer designation the HEI evaluates and scores the facilities on detailed criteria that fall under four central pillars: Foundational Policies and Training; LGBTQ+ Patient Services and Support; Employee Benefits and Policies; and Patient and Community Engagement. 

Baker explains that survey points "are awarded for compliance for the existence of policies, staff training, staff involvement with LGBTQ awareness events, and ability to refer patients and clients for ancillary services in a welcoming environment. For example, for all of our referral services—services we do not perform onsite: dermatology, OB/GYN, orthopedics, etc.—we require the third party specialists to have an open and inclusive practice, as well as indicated in our Memorandum of Agreement with each third party referral. We upload policies and proof of training to HRC." 

 While DAP Health is honored to receive an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Top Performer designation, we're equally proud that, on a daily basis, our staff is always looking for ways to continue to improve health care equality for everyone in our community.  

The Coming Out Experience

The Coming Out Experience Group

Words by Lawrence Karol

June 13, 2022

Every LGBTQ person who comes out has a very personal story to tell about the path they followed and the reactions to their revelation. It's no surprise then that the individuals who participate in the DAP Health Wellness Center's weekly group "The Coming Out Experience" share some strikingly intimate and heartfelt stories. 

"There are four things that I talk a great deal about," says Steve Rossetti, DAP Health's Career Development Specialist, who started the group in Fall 2020 and is its facilitator. "Living with shame, living with guilt, feeling less than, and living with fear, because you have to kind of understand why people stay in the closet and why they're fearful to come out." 

"I think it's valuable for other people to hear that every time someone comes out it doesn't necessarily mean hatred or rejection," he adds. "We want to kind of understand why did Mom and Dad Smith respond so favorably, [while] Mom and Dad Jones responded so negatively? And so we try to understand the whole cornucopia of what precipitates that." 

Rossetti usually starts with a primary question that sets the tone for the meeting and is often correlated to a topic that was discussed the prior week—the composition of the group varies, but there's also a core circle of people who've been participating since its founding. "Because [the questions are] open ended, they kind of trigger a lot of emotion for people so there's additional information that they want to start with the next week," he says. At the same time, he always tells members that discussing a particular question from their perspective is completely optional and that no one should ever feel they have to respond. 

He adds that just hearing and understanding other people's stories can, in and of itself, have a very profound, helpful, and supportive effect upon the group's members. "I'll use the term that I use a lot, [it's about] finding your tribe. And I think for gay people, historically, when you have found other gay people, it normalizes who you are." 

"It's a powerful group," adds Rossetti. "It's really very cool, and I'm very excited to be able to facilitate. It just sometimes amazes me, just the whole sense of reflection and the big purpose is, 'How do I move forward and live happily and authentically.' That's the main catalyst or objective of this group." 

If you’re interested in joining The Coming Out Experience group, please contact Steve Rosetti at SRosetti@daphealth.org or 760-322-6378.  

DRESS FOR WHO YOU ARE

DRESS FOR WHO YOU ARE

Words by Ellen Bluestein

June 13, 2022

At DAP Health, professionalism is paramount. For some of our employees, this requires wearing medical scrubs for their jobs. For others, it’s about dressing to represent the organization or for comfort to better serve patients. “I feel like when you’re fashionable and you look good and you’re professional, people respect you,” said Karen Zelaya, an endoscopic nurse, who has worked at DAP Health for five years. Housing Case Manager Alexis Gonzalez Ramos expressed a similar sentiment. “Every work environment is guided by a specific mission and values,” he said. “I have always valued decency, professionalism, and fashions that significantly match my current work environment.” As Gonzalez Ramos often interacts with community partners outside of DAP Health, it is important for him to represent the organization in the best possible light. “The first impression always determines the business’s success, which starts with the dress code,” he said. “So, I tend to keep my fashion simple yet trendy.”

While some may think wearing scrubs is anything but trendy, that’s not true for Zelaya. “I’m one of those people who dresses up her scrubs,” she said. “I like colors. I feel like they make people happy. They make me happy. I’ll wear hot pink Nikes with lime green scrubs. It doesn’t have to match. It’s the mood.”

Mood is exactly what plays into six-year DAP Health Clinical Site Specialist Chris Bates’s fashion choices when he gets dressed for work in the morning. “I use fashion as an extension of emotion,” he said. “When I’m feeling bright and cheery, I’ll wear something that’s more colorful, like yellow or orange. If I’m kind of feeling a little gloomy, maybe it’d be like a neutral color, like a navy blue or gray, but it’s just an extension of my emotions and how I’m feeling that particular day.”

Newly hired DAP Health Chiropractor Alyssa Romero concurs. “I believe that what we wear is a direct reflection of how we feel,” she said. “So oftentimes, you’ll see me wearing cute, casual, comfy clothes because I can move in them. I can perform my job duties in them, and it makes me feel good.” Romero added: “I like to switch it up with different colors and different patterns. The thing about being a chiropractor, we’re always moving, always kind of down in a squat position or doing something to try and adjust people and get them moving. So, my style is definitely a mixture of professional and practical in the workplace.”

But in their free time, it’s so long to scrubs and hello to hiking boots and heels. “I’m in scrubs most of the time,” said Jennifer Mata Alanis, a medical assistant in the primary transgender care and HIV clinic who has been with DAP Health for three years. “As a transgender, Latino female, I’m really proud of who I am. And while it all depends on where she’s going, fashion, she said, “helps you express yourself, especially being transgender.” Expressing his identity through fashion is also important to Gonzalez Ramos. “I tend to mix a bit of feminine and masculine aspects in my fashion,” he said, “This is an expression of the appreciation of both genders and to confuse the audience about my gender. “It will not be a surprise to find me in a pink-colored outfit because I have quite a lot of them. But I know how to play around with the feminine and masculine colors to create a perfectly blended outfit.” Romero also doesn’t like her fashion choices to solely define her. “If you had to choose a Spice Girl, I would definitely say that I’m more Sporty Spice,” said Romero. “But I’m also not afraid to wear a super cute pair of heels and jeans, or a cute bodysuit... It kind of depends on if I’m being active or if I’m going out on a Friday night.”

When Zelaya goes out, she opts for fitted clothes and body-conscious fashion that accentuates her curves and shows her figure, along with sandals with kitten heels and the occasional wig. “I’m very girly,” she said. “I’ll wear wigs sometimes — braids or big Diana Ross hair — it depends on the mood I’m in. There are no rules.” “Fashion is fun, it’s creative,” added Mata Alanis. “It makes me feel good that I got up and took care of myself,” Zelaya said. “I tried.” “To me, fashion is an art, a way of life, and a peace promotion tool,” said Gonzalez Ramos. “It is the only way to reconcile individual differences and appreciate those around us regardless of their race, culture, or gender.”

Outfits thrifted at Revivals.

Header photo:

Alyssa Romero, D.C., Doctor of Chiropractic is wearing
Top: Vintage butterfly sequined
Pants: Dr. Romero’s own
Shoes: Only Madden

Top left photo:

Chris Bates, EHR Clinical Site Specialist is wearing
Top: Zara
Jeans: Scotch & Soda
Shoes: Chris’ favorite Vans
Bracelet: Leather bracelet with glass bead weaving
Sunglasses: Round metal Ray-bans

Top right photo:
Karen Zelaya, LVN Special Procedures  is wearing
Shawl: THML
Pants: Insight
Tee: Karen’s own
Everyday Tee
Shoes: Madden

Bottom right photo:
Jennifer Mata Alanis, Certified Medical Assistant is wearing
Jacket: CQ by CQ
Pants: Jennifer’s own

Bottom left photo:
Alexis Gonzalez Ramos, Housing Case Manager is wearing
Jacket: Silk bomber with appliqué
Shell: Gracia gold sequin
Shorts: Alexis’ favorite biker shorts
Boots: Madden

INDIO ARTISTS HELP MAKE DAP HEALTH’S N …

INDIO ARTISTS HELP MAKE DAP HEALTH’S NEW SEXUAL WELLNESS CLINIC A WELCOMING, SAFE SPACE 

Words by Ellen Bluestein 

May 30, 2022 

When clients arrive at DAP Health’s new sexual wellness clinic in Indio, the first thing they will see is a colorful mural in the waiting room.  Designed by Indio artists Cece Cruz and Evelyn Sofia Rivera, together known as Mujeres Murals, the full-scale artwork creates a warm and familiar environment to help alleviate the anxiety of those seeking services. 

The clinic, located at 81-719 Doctor Carreon Blvd, Suite D in Indio, is set to open on July 11, 2022, and will operate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. It will offer testing for HIV, hepatitis C, and sexually transmitted infections including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. The clinic will also provide pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Case management and connections to additional resources will also be available. Testing and treatment are confidential and free of charge. 

To celebrate the opening of the new clinic, DAP Health will host a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, July 16, 2022, at 10:00 a.m., with a tour of the facility. All are invited to attend. 

“We started to do planning a year before the COVID pandemic to address unmet needs in our community and to respond to where we're finding new HIV cases and why new infections are happening to certain members of our community,” said CJ Tobe, director of community health and sexual wellness services. “[We] identified that there's such an unmet need for sexual wellness services, specifically surrounding Indio... The data showed new HIV cases located in the east valley. Latinos with lower income and under the age of 39 are most at risk. So, everything just made sense for us to respond to the need by opening a clinic there.” 

“What was happening is that[clients] weren't doing routine testing, Tobe continued. “They were coming in for treatment which means they're having symptoms. They had to be seen right away. So, it wasn't just regular asymptomatic testing. We also identified through trends that the majority of new HIV cases were in people living under 200% of the federal poverty level. So, we also knew then that there was a cost barrier that may be preventing people in our community from accessing a clinic.” 

At the new Indio clinic, “the patient will be able to come in, they'll be able to see our clinicians... and then they'll be able to get their medication right there too,” said Tobe. “They don't have to go across the street or down the road and maybe run into their cousin or, you know, something like that.” 

Another barrier to service is the discomfort that often accompanies talk of sexuality. “There is a lot of stigma and shame attached to sexual wellness specifically in the Latino community in Indio,” said Tobe. “We're hoping, when we open the doors, that we start reaching the community and establishing trust with people.”   

Part of establishing that trust included enlisting Cruz and Rivera to create the serene scene on the walls of the clinic’s waiting room. “I think once the community learns that Cece and her team created this beautiful mural in the clinic, that it will be welcoming and representative of the community, [it will start] building that trust,” said Tobe. 

While Tobe picked the color palette and some elements for the wall-sized painting, Cruz and Rivera had artistic license to design the rest.  “Both of us are very grateful for how much freedom we've had with this mural,” said Rivera.  “We've been really appreciative of the fact that CJ has been completely open to the ideas and our styles.” 

The scene features a wide range of colors – from browns and blues to pinks and purples - that can often be found in a desertscape. “It's not super bright. It stands out, but it's not aggressive,” said Rivera. Added Cruz, “It’s warm but it’s not dull.  It’s not muted.” 

The overall design concept was a collaborative process. “I really wanted to incorporate that feeling of not just the desert with the fields and the community and the people but also that feeling of nurturing with the tree and the Mother Earth,” said Cruz.  “And so that was my idea of the part that I had sketched.” 

“I really like cactuses,” added Rivera. “I feel like they're a symbol of home. I think that [they are] especially familiar.” 

“We put together sketches but then we got community input as to which sketch, they wanted to go with,” Rivera explained. “We submitted three different sketches and then put them online and asked, ‘okay, which ones do you guys like better? Or do you want them all included?’ And everybody decided they wanted all of them. So now we've done a mixture of the three.” 

Connecting with community is key to how both Cruz and Rivera work. “I think the rapport that we've been able to build with the community, throughout our mural painting is that people enjoy visually what it is that we've created so it's not going to be taken likely, Rivera said. “They trust us, and we trust them. It's mutual.” 

“When I think about the mural...my hopes are that people see it and they feel just warm and welcomed and peace and it's familiar. Like whatever fear and anxieties anybody might be feeling, when they see it, they're like, ‘oh, okay,’ and kind of take a deep breath and say ah,” Cruz said demonstrating a stress-releasing exhalation. 

“We wanted it to feel very welcoming,” she added. “You walk in and you're just like, oh, okay, I feel good here.” 

Indio artists Cecelia Cruz and Evelyn Sogia Rivera, designed the new community mural in the Indio Sexual Wellness Clinic. 

Wellness as a Way of Life

Wellness as a Way of Life

THE WELLNESS CENTER AT DAP HEALTH OFFERS MORE THAN TWO DOZEN OPTIONS.

Words by Lawrence Karol

DAP Health’s mission is to enhance and promote the health and well-being of the community. But there’s a lot more behind that effort than just providing primary and specialty medical care. From acupuncture to urban yoga, DAP Health has a whole host of wellness programs that address every aspect of its patients’ lives — whether it’s physical, spiritual, emotional, or intellectual — and help patient health outcomes.

“Our wellness services offer a spectrum of complementary and alternative wellness programming,” says Cory Lujan, DAP Health’s client wellness manager. “Our goal is to support conventional and routine medical care. Services such as yoga, chair massage, and acupuncture specifically help with pain management and stress, anxiety, and a host of other ailments.”

Harvard Health Publishing, which is the consumer health education division of Harvard Medical School, notes that yoga, in particular, “promotes physical health in multiple different ways. Some of them derive from better stress management. Others come more directly from the physical movements and postures in yoga, which help promote flexibility and reduce joint pain.”

At DAP Health, Kristin Olson’s Urban Yoga Studio is located in the main building. (Olson has owned her yoga studio for

decades and employs many yoga instructors.) There are three weekly classes that are ideal for beginners or those with decreased mobility. The classes are free for DAP patients, while there is a fee for the general public.

Despite being less well-known than yoga, DAP Health’s sound bath classes have also developed a devoted following. Like yoga, sound bath sessions can help reduce anxiety and stress — and, despite their name, they do not involve water or a bathtub. Lujan explains that sound bath is a music meditation where the attendees are immersed in the sound of various frequencies of singing bowls. “Our Reiki specialist, Sarah Stern, leads the sound bath and uses multiple instruments, including gongs, rain drums, and chimes.”

Speaking of Reiki, this Japanese energy-healing technique is another patient wellness program that helps with stress reduction, relaxation, and also promotes healing. “It’s very popular among those who are into spirituality,” says Lujan. “The Reiki practitioner does not touch her patient. She uses energy healing to realign the body’s energy. Patients usually report the same feelings as that of meditation and they come out feeling spiritually moved and some are in tears.”

If all these wellness programs leave you primed to take on more activities, be sure to check out the wide variety of other events offered at DAP Health — everything from a knitting group to a book club to the Soles on Sunrise walking group.

For questions about DAP Health wellness services, contact the Wellness Center Administrative Assistant at 760.323.2118.

Transcendental Meditation at DAP Health

Transcendental Meditation at DAP Health 

March 14, 2022

As part of its ethos to treat the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – DAP Health is now offering free Transcendental Meditation (TM), courses.  TM, a simple mental technique, has been shown to improve awareness, memory, and creativity while reducing tension and anxiety. By reducing deep-rooted stress and fatigue, it increases energy and resiliency, and improves overall health. 

The course is free to patients and employees of DAP Health, and will be offered monthly, consists of four one-hour lessons held over four consecutive days. The first session is a one-to-one meeting with the teacher followed by three subsequent group classes.  All classes must be attended.  No prior experience, equipment, or clothing is required.

It's a simple, natural, effortless technique. It’s very practical,” said Thomas Roth, Director of the David Lynch Foundation HIV Wellness Initiative, who is leading the program at DAP Health.  “We work it into our daily routine: 20 minutes in the morning before breakfast, 20 minutes in the evening before dinner and go about your day.”  Roth, who has been meditating since he was 13 years-old, added, “Forget that you meditated. It's not like we need to remember, ‘oh, I should be kinder because I'm a meditator.’  It's not like that at all. We just do it, and we forget about it and the results come naturally.”

While many forms of meditation focus on mindfulness, TM goes beyond that to take the brain to a very quiet place which expands consciousness. “Everybody knows that we're using 10% of our potential,” said Roth. “So, this takes us to those quieter states of our mind, where we can tap into that creativity and intelligence and bring that out into our daily life.” 

Roth continued, “The other thing that's fantastic is the side effects; what goes on in the body. When the mind becomes quieter and quieter, correspondingly, because of that mind-body connection, the body attains, a very deep state of rest.”  According to Roth, the level of relaxation that is achieved can be twice as deep as the deepest sleep during the night. “The result of that is release of stress. Rest is the antidote to stress. None of us are getting enough rest. I can say that as a rule,” Roth said.  “So, this adds a very powerful, yet simple and effortless technique to attain a deep state of rest and eliminate stress.”

Scientific research backs up TM’s claim’s of reducing tension and increasing resiliency. “There's been 350 peer reviewed, published scientific studies on transcendental meditation. It's by far the most thoroughly researched process of personal development on the planet,” said Roth.  “It's something that's substantiated by research.”

“We give the body deep rest and naturally, anxiety is reduced. Tension is reduced. All the symptoms of stress are reduced,” Roth said. “At the same time, what it creates is an anchor in that quietness inside. We don't feel like we're a football being thrown around in life.  It’s a deep anchor in our own consciousness and that gives us more perspective. It gives us stability and little time to ourselves to re-energize.”

To sign up or learn more about DAP Health’s Transcendental Mediation program, contact Thomas Roth at Troth@TM.org or call or text 415-547-0486.

New videos prompt a surge of interest in …

February 28, 2022

New videos prompt a surge of interest in DAP Health's free, at-home HIV test

Written by Lawrence Karol 

A new media campaign promoting DAP Health's free, at-home HIV test is receiving a boost from the well-known adult entertainer Trenton Ducati, whose given name is Zach Ivey. Three other popular adult actors—Boomer Banks, Reign, and Masyn Thorne—appear alongside Ivey in videos that were launched in February on DAP Health's website, as well as gay dating apps and social media channels such as TikTok and Snapchat. Almost immediately after the videos were released, influencers shared them with over one million of their followers and DAP Health experienced a significant increase in requests for the tests. 

The videos were directed by Bob Koherr, who has directed episodes of The Conners, Anger Management, Raven’s Home, and Dads, among many other television programs, and were shot at Snap Studios, a Palm Springs production facility owned by Ivey. "We wanted to shoot a variety of ideas to kind of tell the story," says Ivey. Those scenarios include a guy who checks his test results before having sex; another where someone gets a text message from a hookup but isn't concerned about his own status because he's done an at-home test; and a third one featuring Ducati getting ready for a date and going through the steps of his normal routine such as taking a shower, doing his hair, etc., and also checking his at-home test result before heading out the door. 

This isn't the first time Ivey has collaborated with DAP Health. "Originally we were trying to figure out ways to make it safer for actors in the adult community to access health care," he says. "I went and spoke with them and had the best meeting ever because they were the most pro, open, thoughtful group of people and were so sex positive. I was really inspired to try to figure out ways that we could work together because they totally get it about sex work is work and let's just try to make it a safer place for our group of people." 

One initiative that sprang from those meetings was the Next Step Program in which Ivey worked with DAP Health to connect adult performers to health care, STI testing, and PrEP. He also helped their Mental Health Clinic develop a questionnaire that adult models fill out on set before a shoot. For example, they answer queries about their current mental health and their living situation. "It's an overall checkup of their lives in general and I feel like that's a good [way to find out] if there are any issues that could be addressed," says Ivey. "The plan was to have sex-positive people [at DAP Health] answer the phone so [the actors] feel encouraged to call, they don't feel excluded, and they feel it's okay." 

Another successful effort between Ivey and DAP Health debuted on the organization's website in March 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. It explored new methods of sexual expression that people could enjoy while adhering to social distancing guidelines. A personal video message from Trenton Ducati was embedded in the post which garnered more than 23,500 views. "I have a little bit of a following so I could really speak directly to the community that we are trying to get to," says Ivey. "And I do feel that a blunt statement like that coming from me makes more sense. I could pull that off because I'm a producer in the adult industry and I've been doing porn for 10 years. So I was happy to do it and I felt like it was a really smart thing to do." 

On the personal front, Ivey, who lives in Cathedral City, is busy with Snap Studios. "It's a full-stop production company," he says. "We can handle productions from photo and film, from small to large, we have an equipment rental company in house, and we have a partnership with Palm Springs Grip and Lighting." A few of Snap Studios' clients have included Adidas, Nike, Nordstrom's, and eBay—as well as various fashion shoots. "The idea is that we want to attract more moviemaking out here to the desert and there isn't really a facility that has shooting space, gear rental, and then access to verify talent and editors and camera operators. So we are trying to cover all bases and then be the destination place in the desert for all of these services." 

In the meantime, both Zach Ivey and his alter ego Trenton Ducati have enjoyed their partnership with DAP Health and seem ready to help out with future endeavors. “[They] been a close ally of mine and I just wanted to do anything where I was involved with them." 

To receive your free, at-home HIV test, visit daphealth.org; or call 760-567-2431, Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. The self-tests are saliva-based and take about 20 minutes to process at home. 

Free HIV testing is also available at DAP Heath’s Sexual Wellness Orange Clinic from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday to Friday. Call 760-992-0492 to make an appointment. 

How Revivals is prioritizing people expe …

How Revivals is prioritizing people experiencing homelessness  

When Revivals and DAP Health decided to partner with Martha’s Village and Kitchen to provide clothing and supplies to people experiencing homelessness, they knew there was a need.  

But the demand caught them by surprise.  

The 2020 Riverside County Point-In-Time count suggests there were close to 200 unsheltered individuals in Palm Springs, but advocates for people experiencing homelessness say the true numbers might be double or triple that number. 

Martha’s Village and Kitchen is one of the largest providers of homelessness and impoverished services in Riverside County with over 8,000 people in need passing through its doors yearly.  

 Over the summer, Indio-based Martha’s Village opened The Palm Springs Access Center, providing wraparound services for people experiencing homelessness. These services include helping individuals obtain permanent and supportive housing, health, disability, Social Security, and other benefits, along with computer training, and assistance filling out job applications. 

Dane Koch, the director of retail, says it was an easy decision to partner with Martha’s Village. Revivals is part of DAP Health, an advocacy-based healthcare organization committed to removing roadblocks to human potential.  

Homelessness leads to increased feelings of uncertainty, vulnerability, and isolation. Homeless people experience great physical and mental stress. Many homeless people do not have access to medicine or regular physical or mental health care treatment. They tend to be hospitalized more often than people with homes.  

DAP Health believes that housing is healthcare and through a partnership with Coachella Valley Housing Coalition is breaking ground to begin construction of the 61-unit special needs affordable housing development known as Vista Sunrise II.  The Vista Sunrise II development will be constructed on the DAP Health campus at Sunrise and Vista Chino in Palm Springs.  This new development consists of studios and one-bedroom units for individuals and families who experience chronical illnesses, physical or mental disabilities, or those who are homeless.  

Martha’s Village provides vouchers for Revivals to its clients, who then come into a Revivals store to pick up necessities and clothing. Parents can shop at the store with their children enjoying the same retail experience as every other shopper in the store. A client can have up to four vouchers each year.  

Kris Fisher, the senior store coordinator at the Revivals in Palm Springs, says Revivals anticipated 15 clients per week. Instead, it was 50. 

“The response has been pretty overwhelming. I don’t think we expected to get the number of clients that we did,” Fisher says. “But I’m glad the program is being utilized and that we can be a resource.”  

George Sinatra, the senior director of development for Martha’s Village and Kitchen, shared two stories that illustrate the impact of this partnership.  

An elderly woman who had eye surgery needed protective eyewear.  

She came to Martha’s Village wearing disposable sunglasses. “We were able to get new sunglasses to her at Revivals that day,” Sinatra says. “That was super helpful.” 

Sinatra remembers a family of four who was living out of a car. They had come into Palm Springs looking for help.  

“They had one bag of clothing between the four of them that included undergarments and everything,” Sinatra explains 

The family came into Palm Springs, where they were able to get a shower and receive clothing from Revivals for the mother, father, and two young children under six. Then they were moved to Martha’s Indio location. 

“They are doing amazing and have been successful here going through Martha’s programs. They’re getting ready to get employment locally and then they’ll be able to move into their own home as a family.”  

 Koch says he is proud to be part of the new program. “People talk about the problem of homelessness a lot, but we see people, not problems.  It’s important to prioritize people experiencing homelessness and it just makes you feel good about coming to work every day, knowing you are making a difference.”  

How DAP Health improves physical wellbei …

How DAP Health improves physical wellbeing by addressing oral health

When sitting in Dr. Ryan Yamashiro’s dental chair at DAP Health, Robert Coughlin says he has gotten emotional enough to cry. 

Coughlin laughed when asked how many times he had cried in the dental chair.  

“I think he knows who I am,” Coughlin said. “I just get so overwhelmed sitting in that chair.”  

The emotion Coughlin feels is not fear, apprehension of drillings, or root canals. Living with HIV for decades, Coughlin said his treatments at dentist offices were degrading, whether it was having the room covered in plastic or being refused services when they saw his HIV status.  

It is different when Coughlin sees Dr. Yamashiro at DAP Health.  

“They just come into the examination room with so much compassion and understanding,” Coughlin says. “I expected to be treated as a pariah with my HIV status as I had been with (past) dentists before. I just get emotional when they treat me with such kindness.” He explains that there is not a hint of judgment anywhere. And because of that he feels cared for. 

Coughlin says his oral health was in bad shape when he first came to DAP Health because of years living with addiction. Today, Dr. Yamashiro has Coughlin’s teeth and gums in much better shape. 

There have been bumps along the way. During the COVID lockdown, Coughlin broke his dentures. Dr. Yamashiro found a way to see Coughlin, addressing the dentures and working on getting him a new set.  

In contrast to Coughlin’s emotional expressions of gratitude, Dr. Yamashiro has a different take. Yamashiro says he is just doing his job.  

“It’s a real old-school way of seeing it, but that’s just how I was brought up. I am not trying to get any brownie points or anything like that. I’m just here to do what I’m trained to do,” Yamashiro explains.  

Dr. Yamashiro takes an honest approach when talking with his patients because he believes that a patient’s oral health has everything to do with self-care. 

It is not unusual to see a new patient 10 times in the same year. “I’ll ask ‘Are you going to keep brushing your teeth after I restore them,’” Yamashiro says. “I just want to know how dedicated they are to helping me because the other 355 days they aren’t in my chair requires them to brush and floss.” 

Yamashiro credits Kimberly Tollison for the dental clinic. Tollison came to DAP Health from a private practice 13 years ago. In 2021, the clinic saw 4,122 visits. The staff consists of two full-time dentists, a full-time hygienist, two full-time receptionists, two registered dental assistants and Tollison, the office manager.  

Case managers will screen a patient and complete a dental referral to the clinic as the clinic only takes Medi-Cal (non-HIV) or qualified Ryan White patients. Patients that are not insured can qualify for the sliding scale for discounted services.  

Currently, the dental clinic is closed to new patients while DAP Health works on hiring additional dental employees. Prior to COVID, Tollison said there were talks about expanding the service, which would include adding chairs to the current clinic and opening a satellite clinic.  

Tollison says she sees firsthand the need for a dental clinic for HIV positive patients.  

“It is refreshing to be able to offer much needed dental care to our HIV+ community and also service adults with Medi-Cal,” Tollison said. “In my private practice, our HIV+ patients would experience quite a bit of stigma, and it’s a pleasure to offer dental care at DAP Health in a stigma-free environment.” 

While Yamashiro downplays the impact he has on his patients' lives, he does have a simple philosophy to provide care: Treat them as he would treat a family member.  

DAP Health rolls out harm reduction prog …

DAP Health rolls out harm reduction program to provide care for people living with addiction 

Contact: Leighton Ginn                                  
Public Relations Specialist  
(760) 567-2983  

lginn@daphealth.org.    

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   

Program approved Jan. 10, 2022 by the California Department of Public Health 

This Spring, DAP Health will unveil its harm reduction program that will have two components. First, Overdose prevention and secondly a Syringe Services Program (SSP) that will include health services and behavioral health support to combat the rise in preventable overdoses and the increase in new HIV cases.  

The multi-layered program will focus on education for the community, HIV and Hepatitis C testing, distribution and collection of syringes and referrals to support folks through their addiction journey.  

Additional services to be provided: Naloxone/Narcan to reverse overdose and prevent death, and Fentanyl test strips for testing drugs before use to decrease likelihood of overdose.  

In the latest preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 100,000 people in the U.S. died from overdoses during the 12-month period from April 2020 through April 2021. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm) 

In Riverside County, there has been an 800 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths since 2016, according to Rivco.org.  (https://www.rivco.org/news/riverside-county-committee-combat-fentanyl-abuse).  

Palm Springs has an overdose death rate 300 percent higher than the state average.  

Palm Springs Police Department Chief Andy Mills was able to review the harm reduction program and was impressed with how complete it is.  

“It’s important to remember the dynamics that go into a program like this,” Mills says. “That’s what excites me. Not only is DAP Health looking at helping people, but genuinely helping people so they are not destructive to themselves or our community.” 

DAP Health is only the second state certified Syringe Services Program (SSP) in Riverside County, which is the 10th most populated county in the United States.  

Because of the rising numbers, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Bacerra says the federal government supports harm reduction, which includes direct support and care to people who actively struggle with substance misuse.  

“DAP Health will begin deepening our relationship with people living with addiction by adding a harm reduction approach to our first-aid kit of solutions,” says C.J. Tobe, the Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness. “We will do this without stigma or judgment because you cannot treat someone who does not trust you. Harm reduction is an important tactic in DAP Health’s ongoing work to end the HIV epidemic.  Work that begins with meeting folks where they are.” 

Education  

  • Overdose prevention  
  • Safer injecting  
  • Risk reduction counseling  
  • Education to community partners  

Testing  

  • Free HIV/HCV testing  
  • Fentanyl strips for testing drugs before use to decrease likelihood of overdose  

Equipment  

  • Naloxone/Narcan to reverse overdose and prevent death  
  • Phone number and email to DAP Health for the community to report used syringes that need to be picked up and disposed of, or to request education related to harm reduction strategies at HarmReduction@DAPHealth.org or 760 992-0453. 
  • New syringes and intake/dispose of used syringes  
  • New injecting supplies  
  • Safer sex kits  
  • Safer smoking kits   

Referrals To 

  • Substance use counselors  
  • Outpatient Drug Free program DAP Health 
  • Local recovery and treatment centers  
  • DAP Health’s peer support specialist  
  • Early Intervention Specialist (EIS) for anyone with HIV and/or Hepatitis C for treatment  
  • Insurance enrollment and connection to health care and other social support services  
  • DAP Health’s Sexual Wellness Clinic (Orange Clinic) for STI testing and/or Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)  
  • Food and housing    

 

About DAP Health 

DAP Health is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, Calif., serving more than 10,000 patients, offering medical and mental health care, 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.     

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

DAP Health’s sexual health clinic offers STI testing and treatment, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) testing. DAP Health has earned Charity Navigator’s highest rating for the twelfth consecutive year — landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that DAP Health exceeds industry standards in terms of financial health, accountability, and transparency.     

Visit www.daphealth.org to learn more.  

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