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4 Coachella Valley leaders call for incr …

4 Coachella Valley leaders call for increase in monkeypox vaccines to protect LGBTQ+ and other vulnerable residents

Palm Springs, CA – Coachella Valley health and community leaders are raising awareness at the state level about an inadequate allocation of monkeypox vaccines being distributed to serve one of the region's most vulnerable populations: the LGBTQ+ community.

DAP Health and the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation recently joined forces to create a full-page advertisement in the Sacramento Bee that is designed to get state legislators' attention. Both the City of Palm Springs and Desert Care Network are featured in the ad as community partners supporting the effort.

Scheduled for publication Sunday, August 14, the ad urgently calls for an immediate increase of vaccines for LGBTQ+ residents to prevent further spread of the virus. As of Wednesday, August 10, Riverside County Public Health had identified about 70 cases of monkeypox that were either confirmed or under investigation in the Coachella Valley -- twice as many as the prior week.

While anyone can contract monkeypox, early infections since the outbreak in May primarily have been among men who have sex with men. Gay and lesbian Californians account for 91.1 percent of monkeypox cases in the state, while residents who identify as bisexual are 5.9 percent, according to the California Department of Public Health. In Palm Springs, where LGBTQ+ residents comprise 40 percent to 60 percent of the population, a large part of the community remains at-risk.

The ad also informs newspaper readers that the Palm Springs area is a popular destination for thousands of LGBTQ+ visitors each year. More than 30 LGBTQ+ events have been planned for this summer.

“As the state calibrates its response to the monkeypox outbreak, I urge them to give due consideration to the unique risk factors that will predispose regions, such as the Coachella Valley, to higher levels of exposure and infection from monkeypox,” said David Brinkman, DAP Health CEO. “At present, the state has focused its response on a region’s confirmed monkeypox cases as well as the number of early syphilis cases among men. These metrics are lagging indicators. They don’t capture where the exposure is occurring.  Because the data is captured at an individual’s local clinic, these metrics simply capture where an individual resides. This does nothing to prevent exposure or infection from occurring in the first place. Focusing on regions with high-risk factors is necessary to end this outbreak.”

The Biden Administration has declared monkeypox as a national public health emergency, and Gov. Gavin Newsom recently recognized it as a state emergency. However, because the current vaccine distribution model prioritizes large cities, and the national vaccine supply is limited, Coachella Valley communities are receiving far fewer doses than needed. For example, DAP Health, a leader in the local monkeypox response, has administered 648 vaccine doses to date. It expects delivery of another 292 doses this week. The Desert Healthcare District and Foundation has not received any vaccine doses.

“As a healthcare district, one of the most important things we did early on during our COVID-19 response was to remove every barrier that prevents equitable access to prevention and care,” said Conrado Bárzaga, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation CEO. “That’s what we’re called to do without judgment or stigma. The lack of awareness by the state about our community and how it's vulnerable to the monkeypox virus is a tremendous barrier. We have to change it.”

Media requests can be sent to Will Dean with the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation, wdean@dhcd.org, and Steven Henke with DAP Health at SHenke@daphealth.org.

About the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation

The Desert Healthcare District is a local government agency formed in 1948. Its mission is to achieve optimal health at all stages of life for all District residents. The District includes more than 400,000 residents and encompasses the entire Coachella Valley. The District and Desert Healthcare Foundation, together, are one of the largest funders in the valley. These funds are used to assist residents — especially the underserved — in accessing vitally needed resources, such as primary and behavioral healthcare. Learn more at dhcd.org.

Learn more about DAP Health.

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 

 

DAP Health Celebrates East Valley Expans …

DAP Health Celebrates East Valley Expansion with Two Exciting Events

Sexual Wellness Clinic and Revivals Indio Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies to be held Saturday, July 16

 

In its continued mission to meet clients where they are with what they need, DAP Health announced the opening of its new sexual wellness clinic at 81-719 Doctor Carreon Blvd, Suite D in Indio. The clinic, which officially opens on July 11, 2022, will operate Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm and will offer testing for HIV, hepatitis C, and sexually transmitted infections including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. The clinic will also provide free pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) services. Case management and referrals to additional resources will also be available. Testing and treatment are confidential and free of charge. 

 “Our mission is to enhance and promote the health and well-being of our community and we do that by meeting people where they are,” said CJ Tobe, director of community health and sexual wellness at DAP Health who led the project. “We are adjusting the system to meet the needs of the community by not asking for your insurance while providing free services that don’t take weeks to be seen by a clinician. We will test you, treat you, prescribe Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), and connect you to any other medical or social support needs you may have. All of these services at the clinic are free from cost and free from judgment and shame.” 

Indio Artists Help Make DAP Health's New Sexual Wellness Clinic a Safe, Welcoming Space

DAP Health is also celebrating the first anniversary of its Indio Revivals resale store.  Located at 82-150 CA-111, Indio (corner of Monroe and Hwy 111), Revivals offers an affordable shopping experience while raising funds for comprehensive care at DAP Health.  “We are truly branching out to bring DAP Health to the east county,” said Dane Koch, director of retail for Revivals.  “Revivals is there to provide that affordable shopping experience while supporting the mission of DAP Health.”    

Comprised of a unique blend of staff and volunteers, the welcoming community feeling at Revivals would not be possible without the generosity of those who volunteer. Over 180 volunteers donate over 13,000 hours each year, reselling gently used furniture, home goods, and fashion that has been donated by the generous local community at their four store locations. 

 The magic really happens behind the scenes where the team of volunteers sorts, prices and touches every donated item before it comes to the sales floor.  Together, the team has created a unique shopping experience - an exciting treasure hunt that delivers on their promise of affordability, discoverability, and community connection. 

To commemorate these two milestones, DAP Health will host individual ribbon-cutting ceremonies on Saturday, July 16, 2022.  The first will take place at 10:00 a.m. the DAP Health sexual wellness clinic and will include a tour of the facility.  The second will occur an hour later at 11:00 a.m. at Revivals Indio and will include a free taco cart lunch, family-friendly give-a-ways, and a storewide sale.  All are invited to attend. 

Together, the clinic and the store represent DAP Health’s commitment to providing more people with more access to health services and expanding affordable shopping opportunities.  “We are looking forward to building a deep relationship with the community and becoming part of the community,” said Koch.  “As we mark this anniversary, this is a personal invitation to join us and see our store. If you are new to Revivals, come see what we have to offer.  If you are already a Revivals shopper, come celebrate with us.”  

 

About DAP Health 

DAP Health is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 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 hotlines to 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 clinic offers 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 rating for the twelfth consecutive year – landing DAP Health 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.      

 

About Revivals Stores 

To help fund services, DAP Health opened its own thrift store in 1994 called Revivals which offers the valley’s best collection of resale items alongside brand new furniture at bargain prices under its owned brand - Mode. Revivals raises over $1 million annually for the non-profit, turning over 100% of profits to DAP Health each year since it first opened in 1994, and as the advocacy-based healthcare organization opened its doors wider to welcome more neighbors into care, Revivals opened more stores to help fund the work. 

Revivals’ newest store location is in Indio, CA. at the corner of Monroe and Highway 111. The store was designed to embrace the brand evolution of DAP Health and reflect the organization's commitment to community throughout.   

You can support this great cause by volunteering, shopping, or donating to Revivals or directly to DAP Health. All donations provide comprehensive care for the 10,000 individuals who call DAP Health their health care home.  Learn more at www.revivalstores.com 

Visit www.revivalsstores.com to learn more. 

 

 

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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  
 

Since May 13, cases of monkeypox have been reported to The World Health Organization (WHO) from 12 nonendemic countries. The first U.S. case of 2022 was reported last week in Massachusetts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified nine cases of monkeypox across seven U.S. states, officials said Thursday: California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. “The virus is related to smallpox, but is far less lethal,” says Dr. David Morris, DAP Health Chief Medical Officer  

“I believe it is very important that we don’t use the current outbreak to cause stigma toward the LGBTQ communities,” says Dr. Shubha Kerkar, Director of Infectious Diseases at DAP Health. Dr. Kerkar, explains “The reason the current outbreak was first reported in gay and bisexual men is because the diagnosis happened at sexual wellness clinics.” Transmission of monkeypox is neutral to sexual orientation.  

“In some cases, monkeypox lesions can look like herpes or syphilis,” explains Dr. Kerkar. “It is important to clarify that monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease. It can spread through skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, when someone has an active rash.”  Individuals may come in for an evaluation of what they think is an STI. Health care providers have been advised by the California Department of Health to consider monkeypox as a possibility in all health care settings, not just STI clinics.  

Transmission  

Monkeypox 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  

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

All health care providers are advised to be aware of monkeypox symptoms and if symptoms present, test accordingly.

Testing  

If monkeypox is suspected, diagnostic samples must be collected from the roof or fluid of vesicles, pustules, or dry crusts. Samples are sent to the CDC to confirm a suspected case.  

Treatment  

“Most patients will recover in 2 to 4 weeks and will not require treatment,” says Dr. Kerkar. “However, we look to health authorities for guidance and further information on prevention and even treatment in certain situations”  
  

Trusted Sources of News and Updates:  

California Department of Health  

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  

World Health Organization (WHO)  

Meet Carol Wood

Meet Carol Wood  

 5-minutes with DAP Health’s Chief of Clinical Operations at DAP Health  

 

Carol Wood is the Chief of Clinical Operations at DAP Health.  A registered nurse, Wood had a long career in healthcare leadership before joining DAP Health in 2017.

Born in Canada, Wood moved with her family to California when she was 3 years old.  She grew up in Whittier and moved to Hemet in 1989. While raising her two children, Wood held executive leadership positions in acute care, skilled nursing, home health, hospice, and graduate medical education. 
 

What she likes most about working at DAP Health. 

To me, there are so many opportunities for us to help our patients. I learn something every day.  There is some amazing work being done, things I didn’t even know about until I started working here.  I still have some empty file cards in my head so until they are all filled up, I’ll just keep working. If I wasn’t working at DAP Health, I’d be retired, but I love what I’m doing here. 
 

When she’s not at DAP Health. 

I’m basically a homebody.  I love to read, listen to music, and be with my family.  My daughter had our first grandchild in March so I look forward to spending time with my granddaughter, but I like to read. I read a lot. I remember my son saying to me, “You know why I like to read books?  It’s like watching a movie in your head.”  And I said, yeah! 
 

Her favorite book. 

I’ve probably read every book James Mitchner ever wrote but Hawaii is my all-time favorite. I’ve read it 3 times. 
 

Her personal philosophy. 

I’ve had a theory for many, many years: If my worrying cannot effect change, then I’m not going to worry about it.  Then all I’ll get is a headache. What’s the point of fussing and worrying and fretting over something you cannot change? So, figure out how you can deal with it. Is it that important? If I can make a difference and it’s worth me fretting, then I will fret and I will make a difference. 
 

Her dream career. 

I would’ve been a singer.  I did some semi-professional singing with the Chorale Bel Canto which still performs around Southern California. I also sang in the Whittier High School Cardinal Ensemble.  I won Outstanding Female Vocalist and earned the Bank of America Achievement Award in music in my senior year. The thing with music for me is that almost every song reminds me of something. It takes me back to either a moment or a place or an experience or a time.   Music can be very meaningful.  It can make you laugh. It can make you cry.  I have an hour's drive [to and from DAP health] so I just keep the music going all the way there and all the way home.   

 

Her Ideal escape. 

I love the mountains.  I don’t like hot weather at all.  I love cold weather.  My bucket list trip is an Alaskan cruise.  I’d also love to take the train ride across Canada. I really want to do that.  

LGBTQ+ Care at DAP Health

Meet Dr. Felipe Saavedra 

LGBTQ+ Care at DAP Health 

One of our Primary Care Physicians is Dr. Felipe Saavedra, an HIV Specialist, and Family Medicine physician who has been working with the LGBTQ+ community since 2009. He completed a fellowship in LGBTQ Healthcare at UCLA in 2021, becoming the first Latinx physician specifically trained to care for the diverse population of the LGBTQ+ community. 

In 2015, Dr. Saavedra joined a pre-residency program at UCLA, where he also completed his Family Medicine residency in 2020. During his training, he educated himself and his colleagues on critical health care issues impacting LGBTQ+ individuals and improved the lives of underserved patients throughout L.A. County, many of whom were Spanish-speaking. As a Clinical Instructor at UCLA, Dr. Saavedra created a curriculum for first-year medical students exposing them to various LGBTQ+ topics and continues to mentor clinicians and trainees today. 

The training Dr. Saavedra received at UCLA, both in family medicine and as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Fellow, was foundational to the doctor he is today. "It was there that I truly learned how diverse our LGBTQ+ community is—well beyond HIV/AIDS," he says. "I developed deep and meaningful relationships with trans and non-binary youth and adults at the UCLA Gender Health program, which forever left an imprint on my practice. In the end, I want to see patients succeed, regardless of the medical and social challenges." 

Here, Dr. Saavedra answers questions regarding the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ care at DAP Health and the many wellness options available to our clients. 

Q: The LGBTQ+ population has some unique care concerns that are important to discuss with a provider. Could you highlight some of the LGBTQ+ health care services that are available at DAP Health? 

A: DAP Health offers whole-person health services to LGBTQ+ individuals. We deliver physical, behavioral, emotional, and social services. On the medical side, this includes routine primary care and specialties like Infectious Disease, LGBTQ+ Healthcare, and Psychiatry; HIV/STI testing and PrEP; gender health and transgender care; and high-resolution anoscopy (HRA). 

Q: What information can you share with LGBTQ+ patients—many of whom often avoid health care settings because of past negative experiences—so they know their visits to DAP Health will be positive and they'll be met with affirming care? 

A: DAP Health is recognized by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for being a top performer in providing LGBTQ+ care. More than that, many of our medical providers—and also many of the clinical staff—belong to the LGBTQ+ community so we know the importance of honest and welcoming care.  

Q: Are there ongoing efforts at DAP Health to expand the services available to LGBTQ+ patients? 

A: DAP Health is a vital part of the Coachella Valley LGBTQ+ community and a leader in LGBTQ+ healthcare. We are present at nearly every large social event in the community spreading the word about our services and support for the LGBTQ+ Community. 

Q: Transgender individuals often encounter situations where their medical needs are ignored or denied. What procedures and policies does DAP Health have in place that help allay these fears? 

A: Patients at DAP Health have access to specialists trained in gender health at groundbreaking world-class institutions. Knowledgeable, affirming, and sensitive clinicians can help with transitioning, hormone replacement, mental health, community services, etc. DAP Health is always an affirming space and we recognize the unique needs of the gender diverse and trans communities. 

Q: In general, can you share your thoughts on why seeing an LGBTQ+ competent and trained clinician is important to members of that community? 

A: Even today, med students get limited training on LGBTQ-specific concerns and how to create a welcoming and non-judgmental space. Health outcomes are better when LGBTQ+ individuals feel affirmed and heard as individuals and not as a group. It's critical that the entire care team, reflected by the community we serve, is educated about and committed to LGBTQ+ issues. Removing barriers to access to health care in the LGBTQ+ community saves lives for the diverse population of the Coachella Valley.  

DAP Health Celebrates Vision Forward Don …

DAP Health Ends Season with Double Ribbon-Cutting

Some 200 invited Partners for Life members gather to celebrate the expansion made possible by the ongoing Vision Forward campaign

By Daniel Vaillancourt

DAP Health hosted a season-closing event at its Palm Springs campus on the evening of May 4. Invited guests included some 200 members of the popular Partners for Life donor program, who not only witnessed a double ribbon-cutting but saw with their own eyes the considerable progress that’s been made in the organization’s physical expansion over the last year through contributions to the ongoing Vision Forward capital campaign.

The affair — which featured cocktails and wine, plus a generous sampling of delicious hors d’oeuvres courtesy, as always, of Jerry Keller’s Lulu Catering — began, appropriately, in the Barbara Keller LOVE Building, which houses mental health services, the dentistry department, and the social services wing. Jerry Keller’s wife Barbara, who passed away in 2019, was a longtime supporter of DAP Health, and served as the president of its board of directors from 2009 to 2019.

Al Jones — whose major gift made the Marc Byrd Mental Health Clinic, named after his late husband, a reality — was the first donor to speak. His heartfelt address was followed by the official ribbon-cutting of that new facility.

“Lance and I were honored to participate in the new mental health clinic, as the need is so great for our community,” added Scot Karp, speaking on behalf of himself and of his husband. Marc Byrd’s reception area was named thanks to a gift from the pair’s Karp Family Foundation.

Jones and the Karps were followed by Sue Burnside, the donor after whom DAP’s group therapy quarters is named. “I’m so excited,” said Burnside, who benefitted greatly from group therapy as a queer youth, “because I really think people’s lives are going to be changed in this room.”

Also on hand to speak about why they donated to name the social services wing were spouses Karla Kjellin-Elder and Jeff Elder, who impressed upon the assembled group that, since they recently relocated from Orange County to the desert, it was important for them to crystallize their commitment to their newly adopted community.

 

From there, attendees moved to the recently dedicated Annette Bloch CARE Building, currently home to the Blue, Green, and Yellow Clinics (all devoted to primary care), and soon to welcome the Orange Clinic (sexual health). Prior to the second ribbon-cutting (which marked the recent opening of the Blue and Green Clinics), Dante Noto — whose gift lent his name to the Blue Clinic Bullpen — spoke about his desire to pay tribute to the many doctors, nurses, and staff members who work in tandem every day to care for DAP’s more than 10,000 patients.

Last to speak at the soirée was DAP Health CEO David Brinkman, who thanked the agency’s many benefactors and community supporters for showing their support at special events held throughout the year — from the Desert AIDS Walk in the fall, to February’s Annette Bloch CARE Building dedication, to DAP’s biggest annual fundraiser, April’s The Chase.

In addition to Burnside, the Elders, Jones, the Karps, and Noto, other major donors in attendance included Steve Tobin and Johnny Kruppa of the Grace Helen Spearman Foundation.

Prior to the season-ending get-together, we asked all those who participated in available naming opportunities related to the Vision Forward campaign to tell us, in their own words, why it was important for them to give to DAP Health in the ways they did. Their responses are as follows:

 

Sue Burnside

The Sue Burnside Group Room

Group therapy harnesses the collective energy of community, and the powerful — indeed, life-changing — knowledge that none of us is alone. There is transformative, healing magic in such knowledge… Bearing gentle witness to the challenges, heartbreaks, highs, and lows of others is therapeutic, both for the listener and for the listened-to. This simple beauty of connection and community — the single most significant healing force in the world — reminds us of our shared human condition and our responsibility to one another. I’m grateful to contribute to such beautiful efforts in this small way.

Dr. Jim Cox

The Yellow Clinic’s Jack Pugh Charitable Trust Chiropractic Suite

It simply feels good to contribute to the well-being of others by giving to an institution that has wisely diversified in order to achieve longevity. As the population of the Coachella Valley continues to expand, there is — and will always be — a shortage of health care providers. We cannot afford to let one institution fail, particularly one that increasingly caters to a demographic being squeezed out by gentrification and rising inflation. Not to mention one that still prides itself on the care for those living with HIV/AIDS, an area where DAP not only has deep roots but, thankfully, the will to never give up.

Karla Kjellin-Elder & Jeff Elder

The Social Services Wing

We are part of this Coachella Valley community and, for us, being part of a community means we help each other. DAP has been making a difference in so many lives for years. We want to help them continue their work. Donating to the social services wing at DAP is our way of helping to make that difference.

Mike Feddersen & Tom McClay

The Blue Clinic Reception Area

Because it’s extremely important to us that quality health care be made available to every person in the Coachella Valley, regardless of ability to pay, we very much wanted to support DAP’s Vision Forward campaign. Blue being our favorite color, we are honored to have our names located on the Blue Clinic Reception Area. We congratulate DAP Health on its many worthwhile endeavors and are thankful to be part of its vision.

Al Jones

The Marc Byrd Mental Health Clinic

In August of 2018, my husband of 26 years, Marc Byrd, died. He’d been HIV positive yet undetectable for 30 years, thanks to his faithfully taking a daily regimen of 19 pills. But a few months prior to his passing — unbeknownst to me — Marc chose to cease medicating himself, the result of severe depression he was so successful at hiding that not even I could fathom the depths of his despair. His immune system plummeted, leading to his body’s inability to fight off pneumonia. Had those of us who loved Marc been aware of his emotional state, we could have urged him to seek and receive the mental health support offered at DAP Health. His life might have been saved. I decided to make a contribution — an investment — in DAP in order to create the Marc Byrd Mental Health Clinic, which will help the organization provide a host of expanded services and treatments that will prevent others from succumbing to hopelessness. 

 

Scot & Lance Karp

The Mental Health Services Reception Area

With so many of our fellow community members having been so adversely affected by the pandemic, we feel the need for mental health care, support, and services is greater than ever. We’ve always been impressed with the broad-based portfolio of healing DAP Health provides, and admire the awareness, expertise, and stability brought by the organization’s long history with our community. We are not only honored to be able to support mental health wellness; we feel it’s our obligation. Through our continued involvement, we sincerely hope many others may be inspired to contribute what they can.

Dante Noto

The Blue Clinic Clinical Bullpen

As a long-term HIV survivor, I was moved to make a legacy gift to DAP Health to honor friends, past and present, living and dying with HIV/AIDS. Members of the LGBT community have always stood together to save our own lives. DAP promises the same commitment to the entire desert community. My gift supports the Blue Clinic Clinical Bullpen to honor the tireless health care team at DAP.

Steve Tobin & Johnny Kruppa

The Orange Clinic Reception Area

Because DAP Health’s mission is perfectly aligned with the Grace Helen Spearman Charitable Foundation’s mission of helping to “improve the lives of the needy and less fortunate in our community,” it was imperative that we contribute to DAP’s Vision Forward campaign by naming The Orange Clinic Reception Area after Ms. Spearman in memory of her kind and loving vision.

For more information about DAP Health’s Vision Forward campaign, please contact Director of Development James Lindquist at jlindquist@daphealth.org or 760.656.8413.

Reproductive Care is Health Care

The Intersection of LGBTQ Health Care and Reproductive Rights  

Prioritizing Patients Over Politics 

DAP Health is an advocacy-based humanitarian organization that believes women’s rights are human rights. Women played a critical role in our founding and continue to help lead our organization today. 

DAP Health stands in support of sexual and reproductive health care for women -- whether born cisgender, trans, non-binary, or lesbian.  

DAP Health supports a woman’s right to choose. We believe all women should receive access to health care tailored to their needs, not policies or politics. We believe that health care access for LGBTQ individuals and reproductive health care are uniquely linked because challenges to each are often based on political or ideological arguments that fail to prioritize patient-centered care. 

For 38 years, DAP Health has been advancing LGBTQ health care. First by focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, then on testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and most recently on gender-affirming care. We continue to expand our ability to provide culturally competent primary care and mental health care services.  

We see health outcomes improve when barriers like shame are removed. And we see the impact of anti-LGBTQ legislation on our community's mental health. We advocate for stigma-reducing person-centric language while providing patient-centered care, free from judgment. 

Access matters. According to the World Health Organization, lack of access to safe, affordable, timely, and respectful abortion care, and the stigma associated with abortion, pose detrimental risks to women’s physical and mental well-being throughout their lives.  

The Federal Policy Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Julianna Gonen, wrote in 2019: "The movements for reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality share deeply linked interests and concerns. We are all seeking control over our own bodies – the freedom to decide whether to become or remain pregnant, whether and with whom to have intimate relationships, and whether to seek medical care to help our bodies align with our gender identities. We seek the freedom to form our families on our own terms – to partner with and marry whom we love, to have children or not, and to live as our true selves as determined by us, not by someone else." 

The LGBTQ Community Finds Care at Reproductive Wellness Centers  

In Palm Springs, the LGBTQ community has enjoyed affirming health care at DAP Health since 1984. But in rural areas across California, and the nation, that same community often turns to reproductive wellness centers for judgment-free access to routine and preventative HIV and STI testing and treatment; gender-affirming care, and services related to reproductive healthcare.  

Roe v Wade and Marriage Equality  

We as a grassroots organization, founded in part because of denied access to health care and discrimination, firmly and ardently support the rights of every individual to make decisions based on their own personal needs. 

If the court does indeed overturn Roe v Wade, legal advocates say it has implications for other rights rooted in privacy, such as the rights pertaining to private sexual activity, and marriage equality.  

This includes the 2015 SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges ruling which affirmed that the Constitution grants same-sex couples equal protection and equal rights under the law. These rights cover access to employer-funded medical insurance coverage for same-sex couples and their dependents, family medical leave, and hospital visitation rights.  

Why DAP Health Focuses on Culturally Competent Care 

LGBTQ people experience worse health outcomes than the population overall due to barriers including high rates of health care discrimination, stigma, and humiliation; all of which are compounded by racism and poverty. 

Delayed preventive and medical care directly impact health outcomes for the LGBTQ community. Removing barriers to care while standing alongside our partners in reproductive health is the vital work that remains to be done to improve the health and well-being of everyone in our community. 

We Dined Out For Life…Together

On April 28 We Dined Out For Life...Together.

Sixty-Eight locally owned establishments support DAP Health

Participating establishments, restaurants, bars, and bakeries, donated all or part of their gross sales from the day. All funds stay in Greater Palm Springs to support DAP Health’s work to reduce HIV stigma and provide access to HIV care, prevention, and testing.

Elizabeth Cervantes and her husband Alberto own Carousel Bakery.  Her reason for participating this year was very simple and inspiring. She said, "We want to support everyone in our community". 

The founder of Lulu California Bistro, Jerry Keller got up early to talk with NBC Palm Springs about his family's reasons for supporting DAP Health, "It's just the most powerful charity in this valley that takes care of people. What I love is the fact that it keeps evolving and the new focus is taking care of the whole valley".

DAP Health joined forces with community partners to help spread the word that eating in greater Palm Springs is more popular and more important than ever. This year was the perfect way to reconnect with old favorites or choose among a variety of top-rated eateries that recently opened. 

Pride in Community 

It will take a few weeks for all of the participating establishments to report what they raised, but the last time restaurants and community members came together in support of Dining Out For Life in 2019, the top three fundraising restaurants in North America were all based in Palm Springs raising $307,000. This is a powerful story about generous restaurants and our local community support. The event generates community awareness of HIV/AIDS and supports DAP Health’s mission to enhance the health and well-being of those living with HIV/AIDS.

Growing Need for HIV Care and Prevention  

DAP Health continues growing to meet the demand for access to care created by barriers to health in the Coachella Valley. Efforts are underway to increase its capacity from serving 10,000 patients annually to 25,000 patients.  

In 2021, fear of COVID caused many people to put health on hold by staying home. DAP Health created new ways of keeping them connected to HIV testing and care with:  

  • 8,182 administered HIV tests at our campus and in our mobile clinic 

  • 566 HIV self-test kits mailed to homes  

  • 53 patients were welcomed into HIV care immediately after testing positive  

  • 187 people resuming antiretroviral treatment (ART) after lapses 

  • 351 patients accessing PrEP for the first time 

  • 22,500 condoms made available through our Condom Club  

 

DAP Health Director of Brand Marketing, Steven Henke spoke with the owner of LuLu's California Bistro, Jerry Keller, about his families support of DAP Health and Dining Out For Life.

About Growth at DAP Health 

The Vision Forward strategy details the organization's expansion of its physical footprint through the construction of additional primary care, mental health, addiction, and dentistry clinics — not to mention additional affordable housing units. The goal - to strengthen DAP Health’s safety net for those who lack access to the care they deserve. Find out more at daphealth.org/visionforward 

DAP Health provides a sense of community for many people living with HIV, a health condition requiring ongoing medical management and commonly stigmatized by society and many in the health care profession.  

“At DAP Health, you don’t wonder if you belong,” says David Brinkman, DAP Health CEO. “You just feel it.”   

Isolation is dangerous for people living with HIV, but DAP Health offers opportunities to choose something different than being alone.  

Michael O’Neil compliments being a DAP Health patient with volunteering on its Client Advisory Board, and helping other patients get the most they can out of DAP Health.  

“DAP has worked on my teeth, my body, my mind,” Michael says.  “Now, DAP Health’s given me goals and some sense of self again.”   

Dining Out For Life Greater Palm Springs was sponsored by Subaru, Bank of America, The Desert Sun, NBC Palm Springs, Steve Tobin & Johnny Krupa/Grace Helen Spearman Foundation, and Road Runner Print & Ship.  

About Dining Out For Life 

Each year, more than 50 local HIV service organizations partner with 2,400+ participating restaurants, 4,100+ volunteers, and 300,000+ diners to raise over $4.5 million for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States and Canada. Best part? All funds raised through a city’s Dining Out For Life event stay in that city to provide help and hope to people living with or impacted by HIV/AIDS. 

Launched in 1991, Dining Out For Life® is a trademarked North American fundraiser held annually in more than 50 cities across the United States and Canada; Dining Out for Life raised more than $4 million for AIDS Service Organizations in past years. 2022 marks DAP Health’s 17th year participating in the event. 

Dining Out For Life national board member, Brett Klein explains the importance of the annual event.
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