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Meet DAP Health Chief Transformation Off …

Climb Every Mountain

Through eight promotions in nine years, DAP Health’s Chief Transformation Officer C.J. Tobe emerges with the biggest, best job of his still-young career.

Words by Kay Kudukis


The inherited first name didn’t enthuse his pregnant mother, but when his paternal grandfather died three months before her baby’s birth on January 1, 1986, she acquiesced and wrote “Cletus Joseph Tobe III” on the birth certificate. One caveat: “We’re calling him C.J.”

They lived in Fort Recovery, Ohio. Population 1,273. With their clan making up a good portion of that number. Tobe has over 70 first cousins on just one side of his family, plus a younger brother and sister, so childhood was really fun. But when he was 13, Mom got cancer, and he was the only one cheerleading through the mastectomy, chemo, radiation, and bone marrow transplant, rocking “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba — “I get knocked down, but I get up again” — until she finally did. Today, Mom is cancer free and, unsurprisingly, divorced.

When he wasn’t in class, Tobe tutored, and served on the student council. On the field and on the court, he was a total jock, and like many of that ilk, broke many a girl’s heart. Academically he was all about history, but he did well in all classes. To anyone on the outside, he was crushing it. On the inside? He didn’t fit in. Maybe when he had his own life and family, he thought, things would click.


It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing ~ Shania Twain

“I was going to Wright State University in Dayton to be a special ed teacher and coach sports,” Tobe recalls. “I was also tutoring a group of kids with autism, and working retail making seven bucks an hour.” He felt the aforementioned click when he met his first boyfriend. He casually told Mom, who was very much not OK. So, he moved out — and in with the boyfriend — continuing college while coaching basketball. The once unbreakable bond between mother and son teetered between strained and vanished.

In 2009, Tobe woke up deaf. He was 23.

The ER put him on steroids, suggesting he follow up with his primary care physician. Many insurance hoops later, a specialist put him on antiviral meds, shot his ears full of steroids, and restored 20% of his hearing in his right ear. Nothing helped his left. Most mysteriously, no one had any idea why. His only other symptom was a headache.

When he eventually got shingles, and started losing weight, a friend working at the local AIDS service organization tested him at his dining room table. Tobe had AIDS.

 Mystery solved. Studies have now shown 14 - 49% of HIV-positive patients have hearing impairment.


Abandoned by Almost Everybody

Within 90 days of starting lifesaving treatment, Tobe’s diagnosis was downgraded (or upgraded, depending on your outlook) to HIV-positive, where it has remained ever since. But the first 30 days were not only terrifying but emotionally devastating. “Everybody found out my status,” says Tobe, adding he’d granted no permission. “I pretty much lost my entire social network, except for my two best friends, who remain my besties today.”

Mom was there tubthumping, as he had for her 11 years prior, but it took a referral to Dr. Stephen Emerick, a psychologist and certified advanced grief counselor, to help him hear the part about getting up again. “He saved my life,” Tobe says, voice full of gratitude. “He had me sign an ‘I will not complete suicide contract’ with my mom and him. He led me to grieve and heal and take control of my life through Native American teachings.”

In 2013, at 27, Tobe and his dog took a plane to Palm Springs. They had $20, didn’t know a soul, and didn’t care. Tobe just wanted to live where he was accepted. Ruth Hardy Park was the bedroom he sometimes occupied with other unhoused people, until an Ohio friend also moved to Palm Springs and upgraded Tobe to his spare bedroom.

Later, a boyfriend Tobe was living with got a job in Grand Junction, Colorado, and so Tobe and the pup went too. He was already looking for work when he went to Western Colorado Health Network, the town’s AIDS service organization, to become a client. His case worker heard his story and encouraged him to apply for a case worker position. After rigorous interviewing, he got the job.


Never be Bitter. Be better ~ Stephen Emerick, MD, PhD

Helping those like him — those living with HIV and AIDS — turned out to be his jam. It lit a fire in his soul, gave him passion, imbued him with purpose. He knew without a doubt that this was what he wanted to do. But man, he missed Palm Springs.

So, when Senior Director of Social Services Zayda Welden, at what was then still known as Desert AIDS Project, responded to Tobe’s unsolicited resume with a Zoom request to interview for a medical case manager position, Tobe instead said, “I’ll be right there.” He got the job. It was 2015. He was a year shy of 30.

Within six years, he was promoted to a) clinic case manager, b) community health intervention and education manager, c) community health prevention programs manager, d) interim director of community health, e) director of community health, and f) director of community health and sexual wellness — all while furthering his education online.

Tobe earned his bachelor’s from Arizona State University, graduated with honors in health care management at California Primary Care Association (CPCA), and received his master’s in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University. In late 2023, he was promoted a seventh time, to chief of community health.


Jumping Into Executive Leadership

During subsequent staff and senior leadership meetings, Chief Operating Officer Corina Velasquez observed Tobe’s energy and hunger. “What I’ve always seen in C.J. is his drive, and his strong sense of mission for everyone — just doing the right thing,” she says. But what really got her attention was the way he recently took on a “monster project” of process-mapping (AKA bringing groups together). Seeing gaps in things or identifying where there’s overlap. He nailed the assignment.

Curious, she asked him what filled his cup. Is DAP Health where he saw himself in five years? From that conversation, she recognized his strong passion for developing people and teams. “It prompted me to start conversations with [CEO David Brinkman] and other executive team members,” Velasquez notes.

Tobe was tasked to build his own “honey do” list, and presented 15 pressing processes he’d like to strengthen. The executive leadership team (ELT) chose three to start: partnering with compliance and operations to improve access and quality care for patients (including transportation), maximizing in-house pharmacies to increase patient access, and unbooked appointments (making sure patients are on a wellness track by utilizing clinics to operating capacity). In early June of 2024, Tobe ascended an eighth time, to the newly created role of chief transformation officer. He now has a seat on DAP Health's aforementioned ELT. For the record, he’s still only 38.

“It’s really the next step in our integration,” Tobe explains, referring to the nonprofit’s absorption of the Borrego Health system almost a year ago. “Coming together as one, creating synergy by inspiring people, and making sure we have the right people at the table. It’s about making sure communication is happening, playing to people’s strengths, building that culture, and embodying and simplifying our values, which all leads to greater patient access.”

Tobe claims the scope of this new position allows him to “address the things that keep me up at night.” He’s jazzed about eventually coauthoring solutions for them all. He smiles contentedly. “I just love my work.”

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About …

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sobriety & Recovery

Words by Daniel Hirsch


Trend alert: non-alcoholic beverages. More Americans report they’re giving up alcohol or describing themselves as “sober curious.” This comes at a time when the impact of excessive drinking and drug use couldn’t be more acute. The CDC reports deaths from alcohol and drug use has been sharply climbing over the last two decades.

In a culture of prevalent drinking, getting sober is no small feat, but there’s help. I talked to DAP Health Peer Support Specialist Bill Bruner — who just celebrated 34 years sober himself — to find out what recovery looks like at the nonprofit.


What is sobriety? Is it different for different people?

I’m old school, so for me sobriety is absence of all mind-altering drugs and substances being ingested into your body. Recovery is more than that. Anybody can go into rehab and detox. Well, now what do you do? I tell people: All you have to do after you stop the drugs and the alcohol is change everything else about you.


How do you get sober? How do you start recovery?

The biggest thing is you ask for help. Can people do it on their own? Sure. But most people need some kind of foundation. You need somebody to guide you.


I’ve heard DAP Health offers something called SMART Recovery. How is this different from the traditional the 12-step program outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

SMART Recovery [Self-Management and Recovery Training] has a more scientific base than a traditional 12-step program. There’s no higher power, there’s no sponsorship. It offers tools for self-management and recovery training based on cognitive behavioral therapy. A lot of SMART recovery is open sharing in a support group. It’s being there for each other.


This question might be different for everyone, but why should someone get sober?

Because their life is falling apart. Thirty-four years ago, I weighed 120 pounds. I could barely walk and I was covered with open sores. I thought I was dying of AIDS. It turned out malnutrition and addiction were killing me. That’s why I got sober. All my other options were gone.


What recovery resources are available at DAP Health?

DAP Health offers 12-step groups as well as SMART Recovery groups on a weekly basis. The Everything A group is a mix of all the 12-step groups and has been meeting for over 10 years here. There is a CODA meeting, a 12-step group weekly also. This is for freedom from co-dependency and partners, with all the healing 12-step groups also.

Various 12-step groups have been in existence since the 1930s, starting with AA, and have been helping people with recovery ever since. In 2024, recovery groups have branched out with other forms of groups, including the three SMART Recovery groups offered here at DAP Health, as well as Dharma Recovery and Celebrate Recovery groups in our local community. Everything helps people. 


If someone is thinking about starting recovery, what should they know?

Things are going to change. Things will happen as you take control of your life. But things aren’t going to be perfect for the rest of your life because you don’t drink and use drugs anymore. It’s a journey. It’s not easy. It’s also not hard. And it’s really not easy. It’s not hard, because there are people like me to help. And it’s not easy, because it’s a big change.

TMVII: A New Sexually Transmitted Fungus

TMVII is a New Sexually Transmitted Fungus


Trichophyton Mentagrophytes Type VII (TMVII for short) is in the news, and you may have heard about it. It’s a rare fungus that causes a treatable rash on the skin. It was recently found in the U.S. for the first time. The patient is a male New Yorker in his 30s who traveled to California, England, and Greece, where he had sex with men.

He developed a red, itchy rash on his genitals, legs, and buttocks. Despite multiple oral antifungal treatments, it took more than four months for the rash to heal completely.

No one yet knows how TMVII will develop in this country. In France, 13 cases were reported last year, 12 of them in men who have sex with men.

For now, there is no need to panic. But there is a need for vigilance.

Since TMVII is spread through skin-to-skin contact, including during sex, it’s technically a sexually transmitted infection. And while the sole case in the U.S. has been in a man, the fungus can affect a person of any gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Stay informed, be aware, and know that seeing a doctor who can report the incidence helps with statistical data and research.

Also know that we are still seeing sporadic mpox cases, and that that poses a higher risk, especially for those who are immunocompromised. Please ensure you are fully vaccinated.

At DAP Health, we believe that good sex is good. Sex is healthy. Shame-and-stigma-free. Live your best sex life by going for regular STI testing, and learning about prevention measures such as DoxyPEP or DoxyPrEP for STI prevention, and PrEP or PEP for HIV prevention. If you’re HIV-positive, stay on your meds. Undetectable = Untransmittable.


More About TMVII

If you develop a new rash, please visit one of DAP Health’s three sexual wellness clinics (in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, or Indio), where our experts can see, diagnose, and treat you.



  • Appearance: TMVII infections typically present as red, itchy, and scaly rashes. The rashes often appear in ring-like patterns, which is characteristic of ringworm infections.
  • Affected Areas: Commonly affected areas include the groin, legs, buttocks, and other body parts. The rash can expand and may become more pronounced if left untreated.
  • Additional Symptoms: In some cases, the affected skin may blister, crack, or ooze. The infection can cause significant discomfort and may impact the quality of life due to persistent itching and irritation​.


  • Direct Contact: TMVII is primarily transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual. This can happen during close physical activities, including sexual contact.
  • Indirect Contact: The fungus can also spread through contact with contaminated objects such as towels, clothing, bedding, and surfaces.
  • Zoonotic Transmission: TMVII can be transmitted from animals to humans, particularly from pets like dogs and cats that may harbor the fungus​.


  • Personal Hygiene: Maintaining good personal hygiene is crucial. Regularly washing and thoroughly drying the skin, especially after sweating or bathing, helps prevent fungal infections.
  • Avoiding Shared Items: Avoid sharing personal items like towels, clothing, and grooming tools with others.
  • Pet Care: Ensure pets are free from fungal infections by having them regularly checked by a veterinarian and treating any infections promptly.
  • Prompt Treatment: Treating fungal infections promptly in both humans and animals can prevent the spread of the fungus to others​.


  • Clinical Examination: Clinicians typically diagnose TMVII through a clinical examination of the affected skin. The characteristic appearance of the rash often provides initial clues.
  • Laboratory Tests: Confirmation is done via laboratory tests, including:
    • Microscopic Examination: Skin scrapings from the affected area are examined under a microscope to detect fungal elements.


  • Topical Antifungals: For mild infections, topical antifungal creams, lotions, or powders containing terbinafine, clotrimazole, or miconazole are often prescribed.
  • Oral Antifungals: In more severe or resistant cases, oral antifungal medications such as terbinafine, itraconazole, or fluconazole may be required. These medications have been effective, though resistance can complicate treatment​.
  • Combination Therapy: Combining topical and oral treatments may be necessary for persistent infections. Monitoring for side effects and interactions with other medications is important, especially with drugs like itraconazole, which can have significant side effects​.

Research and Future Directions

  • Ongoing research aims to better understand the genetic mutations that confer resistance to common antifungal treatments. International collaboration is crucial for tracking and managing the spread of TMVII and similar resistant strains​.

Meet DAP Health Chief Strategy Officer B …

The Second Time Around 

In her return tenancy at DAP Health, Chief Strategy Officer Brande Orr has one immediate goal — purposefully mapping out the nonprofit’s future. 

Words by Kay Kudukis 


As a kid, Brande Orr practically lived in her grandmother’s backyard. In a massive treehouse nestled within one of the biggest maple’s highest, strongest branches, she’d spend hours with her younger brother Cody. “It was covered by leaves, and it was big enough to have eight kids up there,” she recalls. “From that vantage point, you could see over the houses and imagine a bigger world.”  

Not surprisingly, decades later, Orr is an avid believer in the healing properties of forest bathing, her favorite spots being along the Kumano Kodo in Japan. 

Suitland, Maryland, where Orr grew up, is a congested urban town a mile southeast of Washington, D.C. Dad taught history before becoming a high school principal. Mom taught kids living with disabilities. The family simmered in generational trauma — poverty, alcoholism, abuse — though camping trips, beach days, visits to the Smithsonian Institution, and activities like a pen pal in Zimbabwe balanced the mysteries of why. Orr also played sports through college, this despite critical knee and back injuries. 

“I wasn’t very good at any of them,” she admits. “But I’m a really great cheerleader. I often won the unsung hero award, and you rarely cut the kid who’s an optimist!” 


Growing Up on the Move and on the Rise 

At a most awkward stage of life — 8th grade — the family relocated to Annapolis, where Orr attended high school. “Pretty posh compared to where we were,” she recalls. It’s here that Orr had to rapidly wrestle with understanding racial discrimination. In her previous neighborhood and school, while among the racial minority, she was just becoming old enough to sense the privilege her skin color bestowed regardless of socioeconomic status.  

Asking these questions led to more exploration into injustice and activism. She debated for animal welfare, the right to peaceful protest, recognition of diverse faiths and worldviews, and death with dignity movements as early as high school, and continues to do so in her personal life today.  

These experiences equipped Orr to be adaptable, forgiving, curious, deliberate, calm in chaos, and admittedly an overthinker. Which is distinct from being a risktaker, she notes: “I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was nearly 21.”  

She also promised herself to find work environments where a sense of camaraderie — a commitment to mission — provided common ground and a second family. With undergraduate degrees in history and French, Orr worked at two museums — but she realized this nonprofit sector had limitations. 


Diversity, Equity, Belonging, Inclusion 

The desire to foster what we now call diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion (DEBI) led her to create culturally inclusive American history resources at Primary Source, a Massachusetts nonprofit that works to advance global education in schools. “We wrote textbooks on Chinese American history, and Native American history, that would complement K-12 teaching requirements,” she says. “I worked on the African American history project.” It was there she met her late mentor, lifelong educator Clara Hicks, and adopted Clara’s mantra: “Keep on, keepin’ on.” 

By then Orr knew she wanted to see the West Coast, and applied for scholarships to earn a master’s degree at only California programs, deciding on Pepperdine University, where her grandfather attended on the GI Bill after WWII. She left her best friends in exchange for the adventure, but upon arriving, found the only other person pursuing their MBA to serve the nonprofit community: a guy named David Brinkman, whose career path led him to the CEO seat at DAP Health, which he has occupied for 17 years. Commonality crafted a close comradeship between Brinkman and Orr. But more on that in a bit.  

When she graduated, Orr took a position at a center serving teen moms and dads back in Boston. “We had an amazing program with housing and school, but we also taught job skills, parenting skills, and health care.” A year later, the phone rang. It was Brinkman, who was now executive director at My Friend’s Place, a nonprofit dedicated to serving unhoused youth in Los Angeles. Would Orr consider coming to work with him as director of development? It was an immediate “Yes.” 

It was a small organization, so they rolled up their sleeves with the most amazing colleagues and put on all the hats: fundraising, leadership, communications, finance, community relations, facilities (plunging toilets and painting over graffiti fell under “other duties as assigned”). “Because MFP was so small, and we were meeting emergent needs of terribly misunderstood, stigmatized, and marginalized human beings,” admits Orr, “it was a sobering opportunity to understand the breadth of nonprofit management and the chops required to weather the blood, sweat, and tears.” The most exciting times were chances to meet new needs. Orr’s most memorable moment was the first day the center opened on the weekends. 


Successful Leaders Enlist Highly Qualified People 

Orr is admittedly a little uncomfortable about the optics of her history with Brinkman, but leans in and shares the story. Now nearly 30 years into a nonprofit career, she accepts the truth — that successful leaders surround themselves with highly qualified people who bring value to their organization, an obvious testament to her considerable talents. And at this point in the story, Orr’s eyes get big and she says, “It gets worse.”  

Brinkman had several childhood friends who would visit him in L.A. The trade-off was they would volunteer for the nonprofit’s events. One such friend was an artist named Dan. Four years later, Orr married him, and followed love to Iowa. She credits her spouse with introducing her to three more loves: salt, Star Trek, and sumo. 

The next work years found Orr honing expanded skills with a wide spectrum of stakeholders at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Valley Hospice, and Allen Health System. Again, strategic activities like helping to offer free colorectal cancer services and launch a nursing pipeline program for high school students from low-income families kept Orr looking forward. That’s when the phone rang again. You guessed it: Brinkman. With yet another invitation to apply for an opening. 


Starting at Desert AIDS Project 

Orr was hired as director of grants at Desert AIDS Project (as DAP Health was then known). With tandem interim stints as director of quality assurance, and director of programs, Orr led DAP Health’s pursuit of FQHC status to open the doors wider. This milestone extended the legacy of the organization’s founders to more community members.  

She happily thrived there for over nine years, finishing out her tenure by serving as director of strategic initiatives. And then, the phone rang yet again. This time? Not Brinkman. Dad. Mom had Alzheimer’s, and it was time for a radical plan of care. So, Orr and Dan, and Mom and Dad, all moved to the Midwest, closer to more affordable dementia services. After Mom and the pandemic passed, Orr worked for Interfaith America before Brinkman came calling one last time.  


Returning to DAP Health 

Following DAP Health’s overnight expansion, having acquired the Borrego Health system, would Orr consider applying to become the integrated organization’s chief strategy officer, leading the charge into what is sure to be a promising future? Why, indeed, she would! 

Almost a year later, Orr couldn’t be more excited about DAP Health’s mission. She feels drawn to the organizational culture by the conviction that access to affordable, compassionate health care can inspire and inform solutions to inequity, suffering, and conflict of all kinds. The labor of love means even more as an aunt to four nephews who will inherit the world she leaves behind.  

“I love this work,” she says. “I love looking at what the needs are, what every possible solution is, and then narrowing that down through all the different types of lenses and criteria to figure out how we’re going to have the biggest impact.” 

Hold all calls, please. Orr is finally home for good. 

Meet DAP Health Chief Administrative Off …

Good With Money … and Mission

For Chief Administrative Officer Judy Stith, kindness matters as much as numbers.

Words by Kay Kudukis


Caldwell, Texas, population 4,000, is where Judy Stith (née Mize) was born, but didn’t stay. First stop was Wichita Falls, Texas, then Tulsa, Oklahoma, until the family found home in Fort Worth, Texas.

Dad was a jeweler who’d taken a steadier, higher-paying job as manager at a cafeteria. Mom was a nurse. Stith likens her to John Nash, the subject of the film “A Beautiful Mind.” “She lived here,” Stith says, pointing to her head. She did not live in their reality.

Her parents divorced when Stith was six, maybe seven. Dad got custody. The oldest boy-twin got a job to help with finances. There were five kids altogether: that twin’s sister, another sister, and their baby brother. Donnie & Marie, and Sonny & Cher, were Stith’s first two concerts, but her tastes would change.

When algebra is mentioned, Stith practically recoils, but she weathered it anyway because it’s a nursing requirement, and she was going to be a nurse like her mom and sister. She was 16 when she began a work-study program and got certified, then staffed, as a phlebotomist at the local blood center. When she graduated high school, she began taking nursing classes at University of Texas Arlington (UTA), then finally took some practical, hands-on, nitty-gritty nursing courses. That’s when she decided nursing wasn’t for her. No touching of things that made her go “Ew!”


Finding Love, if Not Career

Stith was still contemplating what career could match her humanitarian instincts when, at 19, she said “yes” to the airman she’d met while babysitting her friend’s toddler. Everything was going great except for that elusive career. She took random jobs, and while cashiering at a convenience store, got robbed. They took some money and took some snacks. Stith took another job.

Stith applied for a receptionist position at an accounting firm, which required everyone take an aptitude test. “I didn’t get that job,” she says, “but they hired me to do bookkeeping, bank reconciliations, and journal entries, and I liked it.”

It may sound odd that someone who despised algebra might enjoy a math-centric job, but Stith says, “I do money. I always put it into money, and it makes sense that way. It’s not quite the same as math.”

Accounting, she found, fit that criteria, and she began classes at UTA. She recalls a professor, for the first half of a very advanced course, who enjoyed humiliating his students. “The class was hard, and he would call you out. I worked full-time, but I did my homework. I was never unprepared.” Still, his class was brutal, but you learned.


The Joys of Parenthood

Baby boy Brian came along six years into Stith’s marriage, and five years later, baby boy Ben joined the world. He was just a year old when her husband got laid off from his airplane mechanic job. He got another one at U.S. Airways in Dayton, Ohio, and they moved to Cincinnati, where his family lived.

Stith took a full-time job as the Dayton YMCA’s finance director, and transferred to Wright State University School of Business. “And guess who had joined the faculty?” She shakes her head and laughs. “I had him for the second half of that advanced class.” But because of her past experience with Professor Humiliation, plus her real-life experience, she became her classmates’ go-to for help.

Quick recap: She’s married with two kids, working full-time at a nonprofit, going to school for her degree in accounting, and she still manages to find time to help her college colleagues.

Stith was so laser focused on getting her CPA, she had Brian, 12, hold her homemade flash cards to help her study for the grueling 16-hour test. “He could probably still tell you the formula for how to calculate the gain on the sale of a residence,” she says with a laugh.

In 1996 she had baby girl, Rebecca. A year later, the family of five moved to Arizona, where she had been tapped as CFO at Valley of the Sun YMCA, staying four years.


Finding Love: Part Two … Plus DAP Health

Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) contracted her to write their policy and procedure manual. When she was done, they wanted her to stay on as vice president. “I liked the people, I liked the culture,” so she stayed for 12 years. When she left, she did some consulting, then spent three years as controller at Goodwill before being offered the CFO position at Horizon Health and Wellness, an FQHC in Arizona.

She was divorced now, and in those 10 years had met David. He was in the food industry. She fell in love, and they married and honeymooned in Napa Valley. He taught her how to enjoy fine wine, and the former rocker was also starting to enjoy his country music. Everything was going great.

Horizon was considering her for their CEO position, and her big sister (her rock) and baby brother had moved closer. What more could Stith want? Then a recruiter called her up and told her about the CFO position at DAP. He was so high on the organization she figured it deserved a peek.

“You’re taking the tour, hearing everything CEO David Brinkman has to say, and what he has to offer, and you think, ‘I want to work here!’ I mean, you just get so hyped up on it,” Stith recalls.

She’s been the CFO since 2019, and post-acquisition, was tapped as chief administrative officer. They’re looking for a replacement CFO, but it’s not easy finding candidates with the same dedication to the mission as the rest of the team. “The passion of this agency for the people they serve in the community they live in is just … there’s not a mean bone in anyone’s body.”

That’s why Stith stays. “I’ve always said, if there’s anything you can be, be kind, and the people at DAP Health just exude kindness. They treat their patients with dignity and with respect. And that’s so, so important.”

Professor Humiliation need not apply.

Pride-Themed Podcast Features Our Very O …

DAP Health's Director of Gender Health & Wellness Mita Beach Shines in IEHP iHeart Media Pride-Themed Podcast


The latest episode of the IEHP podcast “Covering Your Health” launched on iHeart Media this morning. In celebration of Pride month, host Evelyn Erives sat down with DAP Health’s Director of Gender Health & Wellness Mita Beach. Together, they delved into the unique challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community when it comes to health and wellness. From mental health support to inclusive health care practices, Mita shared valuable insights and strategies for promoting well-being, including how to best be an ally. “Educate yourself,” urged Mita. “Ally is a verb.”


Click here to listen to the Pride-themed episode.


To learn more about DAP Health’s Gender Health & Wellness programs, click here.


For more on Mita, please read below.


Mita Beach, LBBP, is the director of Gender Health & Wellness at DAP Health. In this role, Mita is leading the strategic development and implementation of health and wraparound services for trans and gender-diverse patients.

With an impressive background that includes serving as the manager of Gender Health & Wellness at DAP Health, Mita has a proven track record of enhancing program development and delivering comprehensive health services. Their experience extends to working as a trans health navigator at Borrego Health, where they conducted patient assessments and facilitated support groups.

Mita brings over 20 years of corporate leadership experience and 15 years of consulting expertise in LGBTQ+ rights, sexual health, and sexuality education. They have designed and facilitated numerous workshops across various sectors, demonstrating a commitment to fostering inclusive and supportive environments. 

Mita is an active member of several professional organizations, including the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss (AMPHL), the National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Addiction Professionals and Their Allies (NALGAP), and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF).

Meet DAP Health Chief People and Places …

To Fly, You Need to Take the Reins

As an avid equestrian, DAP Health Chief People and Places Officer Sheri Saenz always knew how to fly, but the day she joined DAP she learned what it felt like to soar.

Words by Kay Kudukis


“There was nothing here,” says Sheri Saenz, indicating to the area across from DAP Health’s main Sunrise campus at the corner of Vista Chino and North Sunrise Way in Palm Springs, which is now filled with stores and condos. “I used to keep my horses over there when I was a kid.”


The Palm Springs native’s dad was a tradesman — jack of all. Mom stayed home with the kids until the last one was old enough to fend for herself. That was Saenz (née Barklow), number four. She was a shy girl who preferred horses to people. She liked math, but not school — that’s where the bullies were. High school? Literally dream-crushing. Saenz loved riding horses and spent all her time at the stables. Growing up in the Palm Springs area, her interests were hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and off-roading. The great outdoors was her happy place, and she envisioned a career as a forest ranger. She told her careers class advisor, who promptly ill-advised her: “Girls cannot be forest rangers, that’s a man’s job. Pick something else.”


Entering the Job Market


At 16, she applied at General Telephone, where Mom worked, and got the job. She continued working there while attending College of the Desert in business administration. An opportunity to step out of a telephone operator position and into an installation role in telecommunications equipment and fiber optics intrigued her. She learned how to lay cables, mount electrical outlets, and solder. The job required some traveling, which meant more time outdoors. She was pretty happy approaching her tenth year with the company, when the telecommunications industry went through deregulation and she was laid off, a crappy practice companies use when employees are closing in on enough years to earn a retirement pension. (See Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman divorce. Allegedly.)


Her next move was unclear until she was talking to her friend about her dad’s job as a civil engineer. The land surveyor piece piqued Saenz’s interests. It was math, and it was outdoors. She got into the apprenticeship program at the Operating Engineers Union, and when she was done, “I did a lot of construction surveying out here [in the Coachella Valley].”

Pioneering in a male-dominated field did not make for a pleasant work environment. But Saenz was used to bullying, and the work suited her, so she stuck it out until a recession curtailed construction. That’s when her classes at COD came into play. She took a position in the accounting department of the Desert Princess Country Club. She was inside, but the grounds were lush and green.


It was a small office of 30, and her duties grew to include human resources. It was an exciting time. The 1990s were all about labor reform, and Saenz was pioneering once again, in the trenches working in collaboration with a labor law attorney, making sure they were in compliance. It’s also where she met Lonnie, who worked as the maintenance manager for the property. They were friends for several years until she finally let him catch her. Lonnie came with a 7-year-old daughter who, over the past 30 years, has given them two grandchildren, ages 1 and 16. Both geniuses, of course.


Saenz stayed at Desert Princess for seven years, until she realized they weren’t going to address the disparity between employees and contractors. The majority of the workers had been there years but were still paid as contractors. No benefits, something Microsoft got sued over in 1993 — and lost. Unhappy with management’s unwillingness to change their own practices, Saenz wanted to find work where she could make a difference. “I wanted to give people a voice,” she recalls. “I wanted to make sure everybody where I worked felt valued and heard.”


Finding Her Calling at DAP Health


She applied at Bird Products, the namesake company of the man who invented ventilators, and at Community Counseling & Consultation Center, Inc. (CCCC). She took the latter position as an HR assistant. She was their 50th employee. That was in 1998, before they publicly identified as Desert AIDS Project. “We were on Vella Road then,” she says. “We weren’t there too long before we moved here.” She’s talking about the current 44,000 square-foot Sunrise campus acquired thanks to the generosity of local philanthropists. But it was still a time when people with HIV not only carried that burden, but also the burden of others’ ignorance. Those who were HIV-positive were shunned, unable to get work. DAP gave them health care, compassion, jobs and dignity.


As a notary public, Saenz went to hospitals and homes with a case manager or an attorney to provide notary services for health care directives and/or wills. She recalls how appallingly hospitals treated people with AIDS back then, and how poorly the average family treated their loved one’s partner. Her voice softens: “These guys were the nicest people, who would give you the shirt off their back, even though they didn’t have anything.”


When Saenz joined Desert AIDS Project, she knew it was a place for her.  Being a part of an organization that provides services and support to our community vs. a for-profit company made all of the difference. Working in human resources and helping recruit staff as the organization grew was such an awarding experience. “I love working with everyone here,” she maintains. “It makes such a difference working where everyone is passionate and connected to our mission. I really enjoy placing the right person in the right job. It is a win-win for everyone.”


Saenz has kept pace with human resources laws and regulations over the years, leveling up with certifications, and in 2014, she obtained her bachelor’s in business administration from the California State University, San Bernardino, in Palm Desert. She worked her way up over the years from human resources assistant, and human resources administrator, to director of human resources. Last year, she moved into the C-suite, but her unnamed position’s responsibilities included finding the role a moniker. It took her a minute. Since she has a crucial role that encompasses human resources, facilities, construction, safety, and security of the organization, she wanted to make sure it was accurate. “Chief people and places officer” said it best.


On a personal note, another passion is advocating for rescue dogs. She volunteered at Animal Samaritans as part of their Highway Heroes program, driving shelter dogs to rescue organizations to get them a better chance to be adopted. Again, she likes to give voices to those who don’t have one. Her motto is “adopt a rescue dog, don’t buy one from a breeder.” Dogs are part of the family.


A few years back, Saenz’s mother moved into her and Lonnie’s casita after her husband died of COVID. When she’s not spending time with her, or the grands, or working to help marginalized humans, or helping rescue pups, she and her love like to travel. Self-care is very important.


It’s been 25 years since Saenz joined DAP, and in that time, she has created a workplace where her personal and professional values coincide with the people and places personifying the 10 words she lives every single day: Be the change you want to see in the world. Courtesy of Mahatma Gandhi, another people and places guru who just happens to be an idol of hers.

How Do I Sign Up For My Chart?

How Do I Sign Up For MyChart?

To sign up for a DAP Health MyChart account, just follow the simple steps below.

Versión en español a continuación


Visit the MyChart Website

Go to DAP Health’s MyChart sign-up page and follow the directions. You will be asked to enter at least your name, date of birth, legal sex, and email address.


Create Your Username and Password

Follow the instructions to create a MyChart username and password. Ensure your password is secure and meets the required criteria.


Verify Your Identity

You may be asked to verify your identity by answering security questions or receiving a verification code via email or SMS.


Set Up Security Questions

Choose and answer security questions to help protect your account.


Review and Accept Terms and Conditions

Read the MyChart terms and conditions, and accept them to complete the sign-up process.


Access Your MyChart Account

Once your account is created, you can log in using your username and password.


If you encounter any issues during the sign-up process, contact your DAP Health clinic by phone or in person at your next appointment.


To learn more about MyChart, please click on this link.


¿Cómo Me Registro en MyChart?


Para registrarse y obtener una cuenta DAP Health MyChart, simplemente siga los sencillos pasos a continuación.


Visite el Sitio Web MyChart

Vaya a la página de registro MyChart de DAP Health y siga las instrucciones. Se le pedirá que ingrese al menos su nombre, fecha de nacimiento, sexo legal y dirección de correo electrónico.


Crea tu Nombre de Usuario y Contraseña

Siga las instrucciones para crear un nombre de usuario y contraseña de MyChart. Asegúrese de que su contraseña sea segura y cumpla con los criterios requeridos.


Verifica tu Identidad

Es posible que se le solicite que verifique su identidad respondiendo preguntas de seguridad o recibiendo un código de verificación por correo electrónico o SMS.


Configurar Preguntas de Seguridad

Elija y responda preguntas de seguridad para ayudar a proteger su cuenta.


Revisar y Aceptar Términos y Condiciones

Lea los términos y condiciones de MyChart y acéptelos para completar el proceso de registro.


Acceda a su Cuenta MyChart

Una vez creada su cuenta, puede iniciar sesión con su nombre de usuario y contraseña.


Si tiene algún problema durante el proceso de registro, comuníquese con su clínica de DAP Health por teléfono o en persona en su próxima cita.


Para obtener más información sobre MyChart, haga clic en este enlace.


DAP Health Standardizes Electronic Healt …

DAP Health Standardizes Electronic Health Records Across its Entire Network

The upgrade to OCHIN Epic, Dax Copilot, and MyChart will greatly improve user experience for both patients and providers.

Versión en español a continuación

In the fast-evolving landscape of health care, embracing advanced technology is crucial for enhancing patient care and streamlining operations. DAP Health is proud to announce the organization-wide adoption of OCHIN Epic, a state-of-the-art electronic health record (EHR) system. Designed to improve health care delivery for both providers and patients, this comprehensive platform, along with its innovative components Dax Copilot and MyChart, promise to revolutionize the way we manage health information and interact with our patients.

Advantages for Providers

Seamless Integration and Efficiency

OCHIN Epic offers a robust and integrated solution that brings together various aspects of patient care into a single, user-friendly interface. Providers can access complete patient histories, lab results, and medication records in real time, reducing the need for multiple systems and paperwork. This integration ensures that health care professionals have all the information they need at their fingertips, enabling more accurate diagnoses and personalized treatment plans.

Enhanced Collaboration and Communication

One of the standout features of OCHIN Epic is its ability to facilitate better communication and collaboration among health care teams. With shared access to patient records, doctors, nurses, and specialists can collaborate more effectively, ensuring that every team member is on the same page regarding a patient’s care plan, whether those team members are at DAP Health or at other health organizations. This coordinated approach reduces the risk of errors, enhancing the overall quality of care.

Dax Copilot: Revolutionizing Documentation

The Dax Copilot component is a gamechanger for health care providers. This AI-powered assistant helps with clinical documentation (AKA charting), allowing providers to focus more on patient care and less on administrative tasks. By transcribing and organizing clinical notes in real time, Dax Copilot reduces the burden of documentation, improves accuracy, and frees up valuable time for providers to engage more meaningfully with patients.

Benefits for Patients

Empowerment Through MyChart

For patients, MyChart is a key feature of the OCHIN Epic system that offers a multitude of benefits. MyChart is an online portal that provides patients with secure access to their health records from a computer, tablet, or smartphone, enabling them to take a more active role in managing their health. While one does not have to have a MyChart account to remain or become a DAP Health patient, there are many advantages. Below are some of the ways MyChart empowers patients.

Access to Health Information

Patients can easily view their medical history, immunization records, and test results (past and current) through MyChart. This transparency helps patients stay informed about their health status and understand their treatment plans better.

Appointment Management

Scheduling, rescheduling, or canceling appointments has never been easier. MyChart allows patients to manage their appointments online, providing convenience and reducing the need for phone calls or in-person visits.

Medication and Prescription Management

Patients can request prescription refills and review their medication lists through MyChart. This feature helps ensure that patients adhere to their prescribed treatments and reduces the risk of medication errors.

Communication with Providers

MyChart facilitates direct communication between patients and their health care providers. Patients can send messages, ask questions, and receive responses from their care team, enhancing their engagement and satisfaction with the care they receive.

Telehealth Integration

In an era where telehealth is becoming increasingly important, MyChart offers seamless integration for virtual visits. Patients can attend telehealth appointments, receive follow-up care, and consult with specialists from the comfort of their homes, ensuring continuity of care even during challenging times.

“Adopting OCHIN Epic, along with its powerful components Dax Copilot and MyChart, represents a significant step forward in our commitment to not only providing high-quality, patient-centered care, but to enriching the relationship between patients and their provider, and provider workplace experience as well,” says DAP Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Aquilina. “This advanced EHR system not only enhances efficiency and collaboration among providers, but empowers patients to take control of their health. By leveraging this technology, we aim to create a more connected, informed, and engaged community. Together, we can achieve better health outcomes and a brighter future for all.”

Please note that MyChart is not intended for urgent or life-threatening situations. In such cases, patients are urged to visit urgent care or the ER, or to call 9-1-1.

To learn more about MyChart, please click on this link.

DAP Health Estandariza los Registros Médicos Electrónicos en Toda su Red

La actualización integral a OCHIN Epic, Dax Copilot y MyChart mejorará enormemente la experiencia del usuario tanto para los pacientes como para los proveedores.

En el panorama de la atención médica en rápida evolución, adoptar tecnología avanzada es crucial para mejorar la atención al paciente y agilizar las operaciones. DAP Health se enorgullece de anunciar la adopción en toda la organización de OCHIN Epic, un sistema de registros médicos electrónicos (EHR) de última generación.

Diseñada para mejorar la prestación de atención médica tanto para proveedores como para pacientes, esta plataforma integral, junto con sus componentes innovadores Dax Copilot y MyChart, prometen revolucionar la forma en que administramos la información de salud e interactuamos con nuestros pacientes.

Ventajas Para los Proveedores

Integración Perfecta y Eficiencia

OCHIN Epic ofrece una solución sólida e integrada que reúne varios aspectos de la atención al paciente en una interfaz única y fácil de usar. Los proveedores pueden acceder a historiales completos de pacientes, resultados de laboratorio y registros de medicamentos en tiempo real, lo que reduce la necesidad de múltiples sistemas y papeleo. Esta integración garantiza que los profesionales de la salud tengan toda la información que necesitan al alcance de la mano, lo que permite diagnósticos más precisos y planes de tratamiento personalizados.

Colaboración y Comunicación Mejoradas

Una de las características destacadas de OCHIN Epic es su capacidad para facilitar una mejor comunicación y colaboración entre los equipos de atención médica. Con el acceso compartido a los registros de los pacientes, los médicos, enfermeras y especialistas pueden colaborar de manera más efectiva, asegurando que todos los miembros del equipo estén en sintonía con respecto al plan de atención de un paciente, ya sea que esos miembros del equipo estén en DAP Health o en otras organizaciones de salud. Este enfoque coordinado reduce el riesgo de errores y mejora la calidad general de la atención.

Dax Copilot: Revolucionando la Documentación

El componente Dax Copilot cambia las reglas del juego para los proveedores de atención médica. Este asistente impulsado por IA ayuda con la documentación clínica (también conocido como gráficos), lo que permite a los proveedores centrarse más en la atención al paciente y menos en las tareas administrativas. Al transcribir y organizar notas clínicas en tiempo real, Dax Copilot reduce la carga de documentación, mejora la precisión y libera tiempo valioso para que los proveedores interactúen de manera más significativa con los pacientes.

Beneficios Para los Pacientes

Empoderamiento a Través de MyChart

Para los pacientes, MyChart es una característica clave del sistema OCHIN Epic que ofrece una multitud de beneficios. MyChart es un portal en línea que brinda a los pacientes acceso seguro a sus registros médicos desde una computadora, tableta o teléfono inteligente, lo que les permite desempeñar un papel más activo en la gestión de su salud. No es necesario tener una cuenta MyChart para permanecer o convertirse en paciente de DAP Health, existen muchas ventajas. A continuación se detallan algunas de las formas en que MyChart empodera a los pacientes.

Acceso a la Información de Salud

Los pacientes pueden ver fácilmente su historial médico, registros de vacunación y resultados de pruebas (pasados ​​y actuales) a través de MyChart. Esta transparencia ayuda a los pacientes a mantenerse informados sobre su estado de salud y comprender mejor sus planes de tratamiento.

Gestión de Citas

Programar, reprogramar o cancelar citas nunca ha sido tan fácil. MyChart permite a los pacientes administrar sus citas en línea, brindando comodidad y reduciendo la necesidad de llamadas telefónicas o visitas en persona.

Gestión de Medicamentos y Recetas

Los pacientes pueden solicitar resurtidos de recetas y revisar sus listas de medicamentos a través de MyChart. Esta característica ayuda a garantizar que los pacientes cumplan con los tratamientos prescritos y reduce el riesgo de errores de medicación.

Comunicación con Proveedores

MyChart facilita la comunicación directa entre los pacientes y sus proveedores de atención médica. Los pacientes pueden enviar mensajes, hacer preguntas y recibir respuestas de su equipo de atención, lo que mejora su compromiso y satisfacción con la atención que reciben.

Integración de Telesalud

En una era en la que la telesalud se está volviendo cada vez más importante, MyChart ofrece una integración perfecta para las visitas virtuales. Los pacientes pueden asistir a citas de telesalud, recibir atención de seguimiento y consultar con especialistas desde la comodidad de sus hogares, lo que garantiza la continuidad de la atención incluso en tiempos difíciles.

“La adopción de OCHIN Epic, junto con sus potentes componentes Dax Copilot y MyChart, representa un importante paso adelante en nuestro compromiso no solo de brindar atención de alta calidad centrada en el paciente, sino también de profundizar la relación entre los pacientes y su proveedor, y la experiencia en el lugar de trabajo del proveedor. también”, dice el Dr. Joseph Aquilina, director médico de DAP Health. “Este avanzado sistema EHR no sólo mejora la eficiencia y la colaboración entre los proveedores, sino que también permite a los pacientes tomar el control de su salud. Al aprovechar esta tecnología, nuestro objetivo es crear una comunidad más conectada, informada y comprometida. Juntos podemos lograr mejores resultados de salud y un futuro más brillante para todos.”

Tenga en cuenta que MyChart no está destinado a situaciones urgentes o que pongan en peligro la vida. En tales casos, se insta a los pacientes a visitar la atención de urgencia o a la sala de emergencias, o llamar al 9-1-1.

Para comenzar a usar MyChart, haga clic en este enlace para ver un video instructivo.

Meet DAP Health Chief Compliance Officer …

In My Life

DAP Health Chief Compliance Officer Dana O’Neal Erwin lives by Maya Angelou’s motto: Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Words by Kay Kudukis


DAP Health Chief Compliance Officer Dana O’Neal Erwin was born in Punta Gorda, Florida, and raised in Miami and Tallahassee alongside four sisters. Dad was a lobbyist. Mom was a housewife who’d gotten a full nursing scholarship at Tulane but who did not practice in the field post-graduation. Instead, she married and had children. “I always felt like she would have been happier had she had a career,” says Erwin. “I think that’s why I’m a career person.”

Five years older than Erwin, sister Donna was 15 when she turned to drugs, creating great stress for the family. Donna got pregnant and had a daughter, whom their parents adopted. That’s how Erwin came to have four sisters, but she wasn’t around for most of that. At 14, she was sent to a boarding school in Tennessee. That’s where she cleaned the school’s restrooms after classes, made brooms at a broom factory, sold on the floor at a department store, and rang up customers at McDonald’s. “I’ve just always worked,” she says with a smile.

She dreamed of being an attorney. “Girls aren’t lawyers,” claimed Dad. “You will be a nurse, like your mother.” Disappointing, but Erwin admits she did love dissecting stuff in biology. Two years were spent at Southern College in Collegedale, Tennessee. The rest at Walla Walla Community College and Walla Walla University in Washington state, where she married.


Neurosurgery, Nursing, and Night Shifts

After graduation, Erwin experienced being a nightshift neurosurgery nurse overwhelmed with tragic accidents. “It’s the most depressing job I’ve ever had in my life,” she laments. “We had an unusual number of new paraplegics and quadriplegics.” Some survivors begged for mortal release post-surgery. Dark stuff.

­“I had no business being the lead nurse fresh out of school,” she continues, “but I was the only RN they had on nightshift on the unit. There were licensed practical nurses (now known as licensed vocational nurses) who worked on that floor for 18 years and knew everything about neurosurgery.” She loved the challenge, but the veterans weren’t thrilled to take orders from a kid just out of college.

After a year and half on that neurosurgery unit, Erwin transferred to the much cheerier labor and delivery department. “When one of the OB-GYNs had a terrible skiing accident and was unable to do surgeries, she became the chief quality officer,” Erwin explains. “That was when quality in health care was becoming ‘a thing.’ She recruited me to help her build the Quality program. So, I worked with her after my labor and delivery shifts.”

Erwin would call in patient reviews to the insurance companies, which led to her being offered a position with Kaiser-Group Health. “They were starting complex case management in their contracted network in Eastern Washington, and asked if I could come assist with a pilot program.” It ticked all of Erwin’s boxes. She accepted, spending a wonderful decade working with a high-functioning and loyal team of nurses.

During that time, Erwin and her husband had three children, then divorced after eight years. “We’re still very good friends,” she says. Not long after, pals set her up with a wheat farmer at a friend’s birthday party. That man had three children too, and they clicked. They married, Brady Bunch-ed it up on his farm for the next 20 years, the eight growing together as a family.


Degrees, Data, and DAP Health

By 2015, their nest was empty. The farm was sold, hubby started consulting in Denver and Canada, and Erwin craved a new challenge. Although she’d already furthered her education in health care administration and management, and had been consulting for years herself, she wanted a master’s. Not an overachiever at all, she obtained one in nursing leadership. Through that experience, she found out she excelled at statistics — using data to solve real-world problems, which comes in super handy in compliance and quality management. And no, she’s not a lawyer, but the compliance and risk piece scratches that itch.

Erwin spent five years at a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Washington state. A friend from the Joint Commission kept calling with consulting opportunities, which led to her spending three years at a large hospital in Idaho, two years at a critical access hospital back in Washington state, and two years in Colorado as chief compliance officer for a national PACE program.

When Erwin was called to join Borrego Health, she politely sent regrets. But they were persistent, and in 2021, she finally acquiesced. She’d barely signed on as their CCO when DAP Health acquired them, offering her their CCO role. She was thrilled.

“I've never worked for an organization that has the mission and philanthropy we have here, and the support we get from the community and the state,” she says enthusiastically. “Thanks to our very active board and CEO, we have such a great reputation. It’s one of the most exciting places I’ve worked.”

Life is full of surprises, both cruel and kind. Sister Donna overdosed at 28, leaving her institutionalized until her death eight years ago. Dad suffered a massive heart attack that resulted in his death at 59. Remembering the past with her remaining sisters has been healing, and although she recently divorced Hubby #2, they, too, remain great chums.

Erwin believes everything that happens is an opportunity to rethink one’s values. “It’s all in how we look at the human race, despite color, gender, whatever,” she says. “We have patients down in Indio who are hardworking, but who don’t have running water or proper housing. Everyone has different challenges, but everyone can greatly benefit from the culture DAP Health has built.”

“In my life, I’ve loved them all.”

– Lennon & McCartney.