Call: (760) 323-2118
8am to 5pm Monday - Friday

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

Silver Linings Found in the New Normal

Silver Linings Found in the New Normal

Weekend Wrap Message- Saturday, April 25, From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

When a Unicorn arrives holding a sign of support for DAP’s healthcare workers, you know it's a signal to look for the silver linings in our 'new normal'.

Twice weekly, our Emergency Response Team reviews the accomplishments of each DAP department.  Working as a unified response, we are innovating to find new ways to beat COVID-19.

  • As isolation and loneliness increases for our home-bound clients, Zoom is being used by our Social Services, Health Center and Behavioral Health Teams to support and care for people.
  • When we suspended the DAP Farmers Market, for safety reasons, we upped visits from the mobile pantry to provide fresh produce to our clients and any member of the community.
  • Hundreds of people are coming to receive care at our COVID-19 Triage Clinic - for many it's their first time at DAP. For those who do not have a doctor and/or insurance, many, after experiencing our whole-person approach, are enrolling in DAP for their ongoing healthcare. 

Expansion: Opening our Doors Wider

To increase access during this crisis, the DAP Behavioral Health Clinic opened up Virtual Visit counseling to anyone who is appropriate for outpatient therapy. People no longer need to be a current patient of DAP’s Health Center to receive this care.

Like nutrients for our bodies, therapy builds resiliency to cope with multiple stressors. By accessing therapy from DAP licensed clinical psychologists, clients develop tools for living that improve the quality of their lives. 

Expansion: Essential Therapy from Wherever You Are

Our Behavioral Health Team and our IT Dept. developed new ways to deliver counseling by offering in-person psychological services, as well as, Virtual Visits and phone visits via a patient’s laptop, tablet, or smartphone. 

Therapy is a gift we give ourselves to promote our own well-being and wellness in times of stress,” Dr. Jill Gover, Manager of DAP Behavioral Health.

Rapid Antibody Test Added to DAP's Protocol at COVID-19 Clinic

We added rapid antibody testing at our COVID-19 Triage Clinic. Used in conjunction with swab diagnostic testing, the combination provides more thorough information to our clinicians to provide patients with the individualized care they need.

The rapid test can identify people with past infection, as well as those in the mid-to-late stages of the disease.  Anyone who thinks they might be suffering from COVID-19 can call (760) 992-0407 for information and the opportunity to talk to a DAP clinician, who will determine if coming to DAP is the next best step.

Speed is always important in a pandemic,” said Dr. Christopher Foltz, Director of the COVID-19 Clinic. Rapid test results in 10 mins. are definitely beneficial.”

Click here to read our full Press Release Here 

DAP In the News

DAP - We're Here For You

DAP believes access to healthcare is critical for every member of our community.  And yet, we know many lack insurance, a primary care doctor, or the ability to schedule an appointment with a therapist.  

This week DAP launched a new campaign leveraging low-cost tactics which include social media, our own digital billboard on the corner of Sunrise and Vista Chino, donated space in print publications, and radio PSA's courtesy of Alpha Media.

The campaign features our doctors and therapists delivering important messages for community members.

  • We are Here for You
  • We Care For You
  • Welcoming New Primary and Behavioral Health Patients
  • Therapy and Psychotherapy Available for Our Community 
  • Doctors Make Virtual House Calls
  • The Future of Healthcare Has Arrived with Patient-Centered Model of Care and Virtual Visits. 

If you or someone you know needs care. Call (760) 323-2118 to schedule your first appointment or email care@desertaidsproject.org

#GivingTuesdayNow Save The Date 

We sent out our first save the date email for #GivingTuesdayNowa global day of giving, which is planned for May 5, 2020. It's a people-powered event that brings together organizations and individuals around the world for a day of action, giving and community building. Millions of us will be standing up, helping out, giving back, and healing. 

Learn More About How You Can Make an Impact and Give Today

Desert AIDS Project's Giving Tuesday Now efforts start right now. While DAP faces its own financial challenges related to COVID-19, we are committed to ensuring our community emerges from the pandemic stronger than ever.

FOOD is LOVE!  Please help make a difference between now and May 5th!

Take Out. Give Back
The economic impact on our restaurant community has been especially harsh and the stimulus is not trickling down to many. Over the years, they have generated millions of dollars for our valley's causes, including DAP, so we ask you to TAKE OUT. GIVE BACK. You can help by choosing a restaurant for take-out/delivery. Let's turn the tables and support our restaurant community with breakfast, lunch, and dinner orders. 100% of your receipt goes to the restaurants. Contact them directly to place your order. For a full list of restaurants open, please visit: https://www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/stay-in-take-out/

Help DAP Feed Our Most Vulnerable Clients 
Many of DAP's most vulnerable clients are over 65 and/or have fragile immune systems. We are keeping them safe by delivering packaged food, fresh produce, and toiletries to their homes.

For $40.00 per person, we are able to deliver this life-sustaining nutrition. If you’re in a position to help, please consider how many of our patients you can feed.  

PPE Still Needed

DAP still needs support to keep our nurses and doctors safe with proper PPE as they test and treat those in our community exhibiting symptoms of Coronavirus. 

We would greatly appreciate your support for all of these efforts in our COVID-19 Emergency Response.  

With gratitude and the hope that you too are finding your silver linings.

David Brinkman

Free, confidential HIV and Hep C testing …

Free, confidential HIV and Hep C testing, plus $25 STI testing, at our mobile unit

by Ruth Diaz De Leon, Community Health Educator 

Here at Desert AIDS Project, we understand our community has many concerns regarding the COVID19 pandemic.

We can assure you that we are taking all the necessary precautions to protect our community's health. All patients are pre-screened for possible COVID19 symptoms before they are seen for services.

Our Community Health Department is offering confidential testing at our mobile unit that will be located directly in front of the Green and blue Clinics.

We offer FREE HIV and Hepatitis C screenings that are confidential and private.

STI testing for Syphilis, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia is just $25 and includes initial treatment.

Here at Desert AIDS Project, we don't reject people for their inability to pay.

Appointments accepted -- Walk-ins welcome! Monday – Friday 8am-5pm with our last appointment seen at 3:30pm. 

Use MyChart or call The DOCK at (760) 992-0492 to schedule an appointment today. Due to high demand for our services, appointment slots can fill up quickly, we recommend arriving when we open. If you are planning to walk into The DOCK for services after 3 p.m., you should call ahead and check for availability.

Thank you for considering us for your sexual health needs.

Se ofrecen pruebas gratuitas y confidenc …

Se ofrecen pruebas gratuitas y confidenciales de VIH y Hepatitis C en nueva unidad móvil

by Ruth Diaz De Leon, Community Health Educator 

En Desert AIDS Project, entendemos que nuestra comunidad tiene muchas preocupaciones por  la pandemia de la COVID19, pero podemos asegurarles que estamos tomando todas las precauciones necesarias para proteger la salud de nuestra comunidad. Todos los pacientes son evaluados previamente para detectar posibles síntomas de la COVID19 antes de ser atendidos para recibir servicios.

El Departamento de Community Health estará ofreciendo pruebas confidenciales en nuestra unidad móvil que se ubicará directamente al frente de las clínicas Verde y Azul.

Ofrecemos pruebas gratuitas de VIH y Hepatitis C, así como pruebas de Syphilis, Chlamydia y Gonorrea con un costo de $25 dólares, en Desert AIDS Project, no rechazamos a las personas por no poder pagar.

También ofrecemos información/educación sobre cualquiera de las pruebas que hacemos.

Estaremos disponibles Lunes a Viernes de 8am- 5pm con nuestra ultima cita a las 3:30pm.

Gracias por considerarnos para sus necesidades de salud sexual.

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, A …

DAP Logo Weekend Wrap

DAP's Courage and Creativity During COVID 

Weekend Wrap Message- Saturday, April 18, From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

Creatively and courageously, together we are providing continuous care and growing our COVID-19 Triage Clinic resulting in the reduction of lives lost. This week I’d like to showcase innovations to reach at-risk populations, despite the challenges of social distancing.

Dental Services on the Frontline

The DAP Dental Team is critical to our frontline response.  Although dental practices in California have suspended routine care to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, our dedicated Dental Team is committed to the health of our patients and is available for urgent and emergency care. DAP dental patients who have a dental emergency should call 760-992-0460.

Sex During a Pandemic

A lesson learned from the AIDS pandemic is that people yearn to feel connected, especially during times of uncertainty.  Shaming people for having sex didn’t work in the 80s, and it is not an effective strategy now.  I am not condoning hooking up during this pandemic, but I am a realist and DAP is responding:

  1. Mobile Testing Van

DAP is expanding its efforts to fight the HIV, STI and HCV epidemics amid the COVID-19 crisis. We doubled our capacity by operating our mobile testing van in the DAP parking lot and operating The Dock in our Green Clinic.  Both sites provide access to HIV, HCV and STI testing and treatment, plus PrEP and PEP. Both sites are also a direct way to get linked into primary medical and behavioral healthcare.

  1. Free at Home HIV Test Kits For Highest Risk Clients

Without ongoing testing, we cannot end HIV in the Coachella Valley.  If you normally receive HIV testing at DAP and you have self-quarantined, and want to self-test at home, call April Cruz, Diagnostic Testing and Outreach Manager at (760) 656-8425.

For people in residential recovery or who are incarcerated, access to HIV testing stopped. DAP’s Community Health Department is responding by combing HIV education via Zoom and the provision of self-HIV test kits. Anyone testing positive will receive ongoing support and medical care at DAP or through referrals.

COVID-19 Triage Clinic

As of Friday, our clinicians tested 250 people for COVID-19. We continue seeing a 10-to-11 percent positivity rate. Our healthcare workers monitor patients who test positive via telemedicine, and our staff and volunteers provide food and transportation as needed.

Drive-Up Services

Our first week offering Drive-Up services for possible COVID-19 related symptoms allowed us to: 1) test more people and 2) freed up much needed space inside our Triage Clinic to treat our highest risk patients.

As we innovate to create additional services at DAP our care for our community continues.  A successful response takes all of us.  I thank you for your partnership.    

Local Foundations Support DAP

We are grateful to Desert Healthcare District & Foundation for funding COVID-19 rapid test kits, and supporting the provision of healthcare to 7,000 DAP clients, regardless of their HIV status. Grants totaling $800,000 will be divided between Borrego Health, Clinicas de Salud Del Pueblo and DAP.

The Auen Foundation is benevolently backing our frontline response. Through a $50,000 grant, The Auen Foundation is helping to underwrite to costs of our COVID-19 Triage Clinic personnel and medical supplies.   

A Message from David Brinkman, CEO, Dese …

A Message from David Brinkman, CEO, Desert AIDS Project

Desert AIDS Project is fiercely dedicated to its mission to enhance and promote the health and well-being of the people in our community. Recently, two disgruntled former employees circulated misleading and disparaging statements attacking DAP’s reputation and targeting supporters of our organization with misinformation about our organization’s fundraising efforts and financial management practices.

These allegations are categorically false, and it is of the utmost importance to all of us at Desert AIDS Project that our staff, our supporters and the clients we serve hear the facts from us.

First, although DAP has lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic like so many other organizations across the country, DAP’s financial outlook remains positive.

DAP’s annual financial audits are all without concern or comment. We post both our 990 IRS form and third-party audit publicly on our website alongside our community impact report.  You are invited to view them here: https://www.desertaidsproject.org/2018-2019-community-impact-report/

Second, the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) require financial numbers be reported specifically and as a result, not all revenue is reflected as revenue of the Resource Development Department.  Some revenue is required to be reported as grants, some as contributions, and some as temporarily restricted revenues and therefore reflected in programmatic departments (e.g. medical care) as indicated by the donor’s intention.

Each year for fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019, DAP’s special events netted between $730,000 and $1 million and the Resource Development Department netted between $2.5 million and $6 million to help fund DAP’s programmatic work and capital campaign.  

Our Resource Development Team’s diligent cost control is crucial for our special events. Indeed, a positive net from fundraising events is critical to our mission and is frankly our expectation. We have, where appropriate, parted ways with staff members when they could not meet this expectation. 

Our fundraising efforts have been recognized by Charity Navigator, the largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities in the U.S. Desert AIDS Project has received 9 consecutive 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator; the highest rating available. 

We are deeply disappointed in the actions of these two former employees. We believe they are willfully spreading distortions and misinformation and deliberately ignoring their obligations concerning confidentiality. We have reached out to them in an effort to discuss these issues one-on-one, but they have not responded. We remain hopeful we can do that; we would welcome the opportunity to sit down and talk.

Our focus remains on our mission and our clients. Our health care workers are right now on the front lines in a battle against the spread of COVID-19 and the treatment of those impacted by the virus, and we will not be distracted from that important work. For more information about the care being provided at DAP during the COVID-19 crisis, we invite you to review the series of ‘'Weekend Wrap'’ updates on our website https://www.desertaidsproject.org/weekendwrapup/

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, A …

DAP Logo Weekend Wrap

Weekend Wrap Message - Saturday, April 11, From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

This week Desert AIDS Project refocused and expanded healthcare access. I could not be prouder of our team and their work to ensure everyone in our valley has the opportunity to receive care.

As of Friday, our COVID-19 Triage Clinic conducted over 200 tests with an eleven percent positivity rate. But our care doesn't end with a test. Each person receives a personal call and when needed is provided access to ongoing medical care, a therapist, support groups and food delivered to their doors.

DAP launched Drive-Up Testing outside our COVID-19 Triage Clinic. With this expansion:

  • DAP can double the number of people served each day;
  • divert patients, who are not seriously ill, from emergency departments;
  • and conserve space inside our COVID-19 Triage Clinic for people whose symptoms are more severe.

An appointment is required for Drive-Up Testing. Call our COVID-19 hotline at (760) 992-0407 to speak with a DAP healthcare worker. Getting respiratory illness symptoms checked by a clinician is important, especially a dry cough or a fever of 100.4 or higher.

“These are the folks who have been told to stay home with their symptoms,” said Dr. Christopher Foltz, leader of the COVID-19 Triage Clinic at DAP. “We don’t want to miss anyone.”

Accessing Primary, Behavioral & Sexual Health:

  • Our Blue Clinic and Green Clinic teams spent the week reaching out to DAP patients to ensure a continuum of primary care, virtually or in person.120 primary care Virtual Visits were conducted in the last six days.
  • Our Behavioral Healthcare team used virtual health to respond to patients’ stress and anxiety, conducting 94 Behavioral Health Virtual Visits in the last six days.
  • Our Community Health team developed a strategy to use our mobile testing van to make sure no one experiences interrupted access to HIV and STI testing and treatment, or access to PrEP and PEP. Parked in the DAP back parking lot, we welcome walk-ins for these services, as well as follow-up services, utilizing our Get Tested mobile testing van. 

About Me Testing Positive:

And I decided to share my personal story about testing positive for the COVID-19 virus via The Desert Sun which published on Thursday, April 9. I followed up with NBC Palm Springs and Kitty Alvarado on Friday. 

Valley Voice:  DAP is responding to coronavirus for our Coachella Valley community 

I was tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus, at Desert AIDS Project’s COVID-19 Triage Clinic, and that test came back positive on March 29. My doctor recommended I get the test after I developed symptoms - cough and fatigue. I’m grateful to be recovering while working at home.

At first, I chose to keep this private because I did not want to take any focus away from the care team at DAP who are responding to this crisis and serving our patients.  

At this time, I am reflecting on the men and women who worked at DAP at the beginning of the AIDS pandemic. They could not have seen the future in the midst of the AIDS crisis. 

Then, like now, some are struggling with fear and fear can lead to inaction, depression, withdrawal, stigma, substance abuse, and eventually death. We know, because the founders of DAP taught us that fear has never been and will never be the solution.

I believe DAP’s founders would tell us today that we have a choice. We can chose to be fearful or hopeful and brave. We can believe that every moment of our life was preparing us for today. Because it was.  

The history of DAP provides a glimpse into the future.  Our history shows that we will dramatically decrease the loss of lives from COVID-19 in our community and we will prevent new infections. We will respond with compassion and we will rely on facts instead of fear in our response.  

It’s in the very DNA of Desert AIDS Project to respond quickly to public health crises using science and medicine to create a humanitarian response. We are using our tested roadmaps from the HIV and HCV epidemics to respond to COVID-19. Helping people survive epidemics in the Coachella Valley has been the core specialty of DAP for 35 years. With the largest infectious disease team of clinicians in this region of California, DAP offers expert medical care, anchored by a deep understanding of Coachella Valley epidemiology.

I truly believe the work we’re doing at DAP right now will be a case study for how to respond in a public health crisis for decades to come. As a team, and an organization, DAP is showing what is possible when we work together to change the course of this pandemic and help navigate our community through it.

DAP opened our COVID-19 Triage Clinic on March 16. The uninsured are never turned away. If you believe you might be symptomatic or need information about testing, please call our COVID-19 hotline at (760) 922-0407

This experience has reinforced my belief that no person in our valley should be without healthcare. If you or someone you know needs access to primary or behavioral health care, DAP is here for you.

Desert AIDS Project CEO Recovering After …

Desert AIDS Project CEO Recovering After Testing Positive for COVID-19; continues to lead DAP’s response efforts.

Contact: Steven Henke

shenke@desertaidsproject.org
(612) 310-3047

 

Press Release

Palm Springs, CA April 9, 2020 —David Brinkman , CEO of Desert AIDS Project, was tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus, at Desert AIDS Project’s COVID-19 Triage Clinic. The test came back positive on March 29. Brinkman sought testing after experiencing a cough and fatigue.  He is recovering while self-quarantined at home.

Local writer Daniel Vailancourt spoke with David Brinkman about his experience with COVID-19, read the interview here.

“I chose to keep this private at first because I did not want to take any focus away from the care team at DAP responding to this crisis and serving our patients,” Brinkman said.

Desert AIDS Project opened its COVID-19 Triage Clinic on March 16. In addition to testing, the clinic provides treatment for symptoms of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses that can present in a similar manner. Those without insurance coverage are never turned away.

Brinkman has remained at the forefront of DAP’s response to the pandemic while self-quarantining at home. DAP launched two new services for testing and care including Virtual Visits for DAP’s clients unable to leave their homes, and drive-through testing outside its COVID-19 Triage Clinic to provide access to larger numbers of community members seeking care. “This experience has reinforced my belief that no person in our valley should be without healthcare,” said Brinkman. “We are opening DAP’s doors even wider to community members who need access to care during this crisis.”

“It’s in the very DNA of Desert AIDS Project to respond quickly to a public health crisis using science and medicine to create a humanitarian response,” said Brinkman. “We are using our tested roadmaps from the HIV and HCV epidemics to respond to COVID-19." Helping people survive epidemics is in the Coachella Valley has been the core specialty of DAP for 35 years. With the largest infectious disease team of clinicians in this region of California, DAP offers expert medical care, anchored by a deep understanding of Coachella Valley epidemiology.

The team at Desert AIDS Project has been adaptive in their approach and quick in their response to ensure continuous care for our patients and clients.

  • Desert AIDS Project launched MyChart Virtual Visit, a digital solution that ensures our patient's continuum of care from the comfort of their home. MyChart Virtual Visit is an easy and reliable way for them to meet with their clinicians. Click here to learn more about MyChart Virtual Visit. Our patients still have the option for an in-person meeting with their clinician in our Blue Clinic or Green Clinic on the DAP campus.
  • Testing and symptom treatment in DAP's COVID-19 Triage clinic continues daily. 
  • DAP is still welcoming new clients during the COVID-19 health crisis. Services available include:
    • Primary Care
    • Specialty Care for HIV and Hep C
    • Behavioral Healthcare
    • Emergency Dental Care
    • Sexual Health Services at The DOCK
    • Social Services like case management, food assistance, transportation, housing and home care.
  • The DOCK, temporarily housed in DAP’s Green Clinic, continues to see patients who have questions about their sexual health, testing for STI's and HIV while our PrEP navigators continued to provide access to this prevention method.
  • DAP's Social Service and Community Health teams launched home delivery of essential supplies, including food for our most vulnerable clients ensuring they don't need to leave their home to go to the grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you believe you might be symptomatic or need information about testing, please call our COVID-19 hotline at (760) 992-0407.

About Desert AIDS Project

Desert AIDS Project (DAP) is a Federally Qualified Health Center in Palm Springs, CA offering DAP Total Care – a combination of medical, dental, counseling, social services, support groups, alternative therapies, in-house pharmacy and lab, and other health and wellness services. DAP’s sexual health clinic, The DOCK, offers STI testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and HCV testing. DAP’s Get Tested Coachella Valley campaign, the nation’s first region-wide free HIV testing and access to care initiative, was recognized by the White House for helping to bring about an AIDS-free future. DAP has earned a “Four Star” rating from Charity Navigator for the twelfth consecutive year – landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that we exceed industry standards in terms of our financial health, accountability, and transparency.

Visit www.desertaidsproject.orgwww.thedockclinic.org, and www.gettestedcoachellavalley.org to learn more.

Coming Out All Over Again

Coming Out All Over Again

For the first time, Desert AIDS Project CEO David Brinkman speaks publicly about his very personal struggle with COVID-19

By Daniel Vaillancourt

Making good on its mission to provide holistic healthcare to every resident of the Coachella Valley, regardless of serostatus or ability to pay, Desert AIDS Project unveiled its new COVID-19 Triage Clinic on Monday, March 16. This, by the by, despite the fact that the pandemic will ultimately have a negative economic impact of some $2.5 million on DAP due to revenue lost from the cessation of routine visits and reduction of select services, the closure of all Revivals thrift stores, and the cancellation of annual fundraiser Dining Out For Life.

Among those so far tested for the novel coronavirus at DAP is the non-profit’s CEO, David Brinkman, whose result was positive. What follows is an edited transcript of our telephone conversation of Tuesday, April 7—nine days after his diagnosis. I was sequestered in my home office; he was quarantined in his.

(Full disclosure: For the last decade, I have scripted DAP’s annual benefit, February’s Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards. Following known exposure to multiple friends currently suffering from COVID-19, I, too was tested for the coronavirus at DAP. My result was negative.)

DAP CEO David Brinkman at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards
David Brinkman at the February 2020 Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Photo: Lani Garfield

Daniel Vaillancourt: First things first. How are you feeling?

David Brinkman: I’m fine. Each morning my energy increases a little bit over the day before. That’s the sign you’re on the mend, right? I’m much more concerned about DAP’s well-being.  

To my knowledge, you’re the first leader or public figure in the desert to come out about testing positive for the coronavirus. Why are you going on the record?

That’s probably the hardest question to answer. I initially thought I wouldn’t share this publicly. Our focus needs to be solely on supporting our healthcare workers on our front line, educating the community, and supporting its members. I first spoke to my physician husband, Will Grimm, then to my board chair and co-chair, Steve Kaufer and Patrick Jordan. It quickly became clear that by sharing my story, I could help our community and DAP win the war against this virus. So here I am, using this platform to educate, decrease fear, and inspire hope.

What led to your wanting to be tested?

Ever since the start of this crisis, all of us at DAP have been working a minimum of 12 hours a day. By Thursday, March 26, I couldn’t tell what was going on with my immune system, but I could tell it was being impacted. Was I manifesting symptoms of a cold because of exhaustion, or was it something else? On the morning of Friday, March 27, I called DAP’s COVID-19 hotline and was assessed over the phone. I didn’t want a test kit to be used on me unless it was absolutely necessary. After voicing my symptoms—especially my dry cough, the telltale sign of coronavirus infection—I was instructed to come in and be tested. I was administered nasopharyngeal and throat swabs, then told to quarantine. I headed straight back to my home office. DAP has been my focus every waking hour of the day since the pandemic began, so I had plenty of work to keep me busy.

No anxiety as you awaited the test result?

I was fortunate that by the time I was tested, the labs had caught up and increased productivity. I was told I’d have news within 48 hours to three days. Five days at the very worst. I got the call on the evening of Sunday, March 29—just a little more than 48 hours later. Honestly, from all the years of being tested for HIV and the memories of having to wait two weeks for those results back in the ’90s, this was nothing. So no, I wasn’t anxious at all. That said, in times of crisis, one of my roles at DAP is to be very visible, demonstrating a tone of leadership, certainty, calmness, and focus. I knew that if I tested positive, there was no way I could do that. It would change how I communicate with our employees.

Did you not have qualms about being tested at your place of employment?

That’s a legitimate question, but at DAP we’re so well-trained around issues of confidentiality and HIPAA laws to protect patient privacy. I knew the same standard would apply to me. Following my positive test result, per DAP’s policy, I notified our head of human resources. Had I been in close physical contact with another staff member while contagious, HR would have notified that person. But in my case, since we’d already been social distancing at work—or working remotely from home—for weeks, there was nobody to notify.

How did the disease progress post-diagnosis?

Interestingly, I never experienced fever. After I got my results back, the next phase of the virus was loss of taste and smell. Those symptoms lasted nine days. Just two days ago, I tasted sweetness again. Yesterday, I started to taste salt. By the middle of last week, the fatigue was getting more significant and problematic, because my average day—filled with phone calls, emails, and meetings via Zoom—is 12 hours long, at minimum. I’m someone who can usually function perfectly on two and a half to five hours of sleep a night. Since becoming sick, I’ve been sleeping nine hours a night solid, without opening an eye once, which I haven’t done since I was a teenager. Finally, there was a period where my lungs started to tighten. I never felt like I couldn’t breathe, but a week ago, each evening as the sun was setting, my breaths became belabored. It started low in my lungs and stayed there for five or six days. Thank goodness, last weekend it came to the top of my lungs and has started moving. Today, it’s loosened. I finally feel like I’m getting over it.

Being the leader of a healthcare organization providing services to the community during this pandemic, how has it been for you to access said services personally?

What comes to mind is not about my being tested and proving positive. It’s about reflecting upon all of us going through this pandemic together. I also reflect upon how our DAP founders were feeling when hundreds of thousands of young people were dying of AIDS in the early eighties. We all know that when fear grabs hold of you, it paralyzes you from finding creativity, power, and resourcefulness. This pandemic makes me think about our founders with a heightened level of respect, but also inquisitiveness about what moved them through their fear to a place that created the response Desert AIDS Project became. They were losing the loves of their lives, their very best friends. From talking to our surviving founders over the years—and seeing how quickly their eyes well up with tears—I know it was unconditional love for humanity that propelled them.

What would you like to leave our readers with?

I want to remind them that DAP has previously honored the great physicians Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx on our Steve Chase stage. Both of them said that DAP is a global model on how to respond to the AIDS crisis—our organization, in our small town. Given where these two experts are today—and what important roles they play in this current pandemic—I hope their great esteem of DAP and of our community encourages all of us to know that, together, we can prevent the spread of this pandemic here in the desert. We can prevent further loss of life. We have an amazing team of infectious disease specialists and heroic nurses providing stellar services. The uninsured are never turned away. That’s so special. We’re soon launching our first coronavirus-positive support group via Zoom. That’s so unique. Imagine the impact those first support groups for HIV-positive people had in 1983. We can show the world what a community of committed neighbors can do. Why? Because we’ve done it so successfully in the past.

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday Ap …

DAP Logo Weekend Wrap

Weekend Wrap Message - Saturday, April 4, From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

This week began with National Doctors Day - a day that, after this pandemic, we may want to consider making a Federal Holiday to honor the health professionals around the world who have shown a commitment to saving lives during the COVID-19 crisis.

Ambassador Deborah L. Birx MD, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and tireless champion in the fight against HIV/AIDS since the earliest days, said this about the importance of community response to the pandemic.

Weekend Wrap Message - Saturday, April 4, From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

This week began with National Doctors Day - a day that, after this pandemic, we may want to consider making a Federal Holiday to honor the health professionals around the world who have shown a commitment to saving lives during the COVID-19 crisis.

Ambassador Deborah L. Birx MD, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and tireless champion in the fight against HIV/AIDS since the earliest days, said this about the importance of community response to the pandemic.

Weekend Wrap Message - Saturday, April 4, From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

This week began with National Doctors Day - a day that, after this pandemic, we may want to consider making a Federal Holiday to honor the health professionals around the world who have shown a commitment to saving lives during the COVID-19 crisis.

Ambassador Deborah L. Birx MD, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and tireless champion in the fight against HIV/AIDS since the earliest days, said this about the importance of community response to the pandemic.

“It’s communities that will do this.  There’s no magic bullet.  There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviors. Each of our behaviors translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic over the next 30 days." - Ambassador Deborah L. Birx

I truly believe the work we’re doing at DAP right now will be a case study for how to react in a public health crisis for decades to come. As a team, and an organization, DAP is showing what is possible when we work together to change the course of this pandemic and help navigate our community through it.

The team at Desert AIDS Project has been adaptive in their approach and quick in their response to ensure continuous care for our patients and clients. 

  • Desert AIDS Project proudly launched MyChart Virtual Visit, a digital solution that ensures our patient's continuum of care from the comfort of their home. MyChart Virtual Visit is an easy and reliable way for them to meet with their clinicians. Click here to learn more about MyChart Virtual Visit
  • Our patients still have the option for an in-person meeting with their clinician in our Blue Clinic or Green Clinic on the DAP campus.  
  • MyChart Virtual Visit offers more choices to access the great care they've become accustomed to from DAP. It's one more way we deliver Patient-Centered Care to our community.
  • Testing and symptom treatment in DAP's COVID-19 Triage clinic continues daily. 

Desert AIDS Project in the News. 

DAP has been committed to providing essential health information and services to the Spanish speaking community of the Coachella Valley for 36 years.

DAP COVID-19 Triage Clinic clinician Nayeli Torres engaged Univision journalist Regina Yurita on precautions people need to take, especially in areas of the Coachella Valley where air quality is poorest and most of the population are Spanish speakers.

Launch of a Peer Fundraising Campaign

So we may continue our work, nearly 300 friends and neighbors have answered our emergency fundraising call with donations of medical supplies and financial gifts approaching $300,000. Still, we have $1,150,000 left to raise.

To ensure we reach this critical goal, we launched a Community Champions peer-to-peer fundraising effort.

We ask you to enlist you friends, neighbors, and family in this most urgent call. If you’ve not participated in online fundraising with DAP in the past, click here to visit our Peer-to-Peer fundraising platform

Please join us by registering with your Desert AIDS Walk credentials. If you are already in the system, simply fill out the form that will establish you as a DAP COVID-19 Community Champion. 

New Approaches to Sexual Wellness During COVID-19

DAP launched a Sex and COVID-19 information campaign starting a frank conversation about practical alternatives to hooking up in-person. Partnering with Trenton Ducati, we started by sharing a video message. Upcoming is a series of more videos, an Instagram live, and infographics that provide community education.

  • In less than two weeks, 6 new people were diagnosed with  HIV at The Dock. We are thankful they chose to get tested, and we are committed to providing them continuous and holistic care going forward.
  • Our work to end HIV and STIs continues, and our sexual health clinic The DOCK is still open the public on the DAP campus.

The Community Health team has been stepped up during this crisis to help keep the lifelines at DAP open. Team members are:

  • Providing clients extra telephone support to ensure concerns and needs for vital information are addressed.
  • Bolstering our Home Health team by providing home delivery services to our most vulnerable patient population.
  • Collaborating with the UCR Street Medicine Team to assemble and distribute much needed hygiene and safer sex kits to at-risk populations in shelters and in-the-field.

Talk Therapy For Clients

Increasing access to talk therapy support, DAP Behavioral Health has opened up virtual therapy services for all DAP clients. Dr. Jill Gover leads a team of compassionate and competent practitioners who are ready to help our community. Please click here to call 760-992-0450 to discuss pre-authorization, and schedule an intake appointment with one of our therapists.

Many of our support groups  continue via Zoom conferencing, and more are on the horizon. Next week, we will launch a COVID-19 Support Group via Zoom that will enable members of our community who test positive to exchange perspectives and information to make it through this time. For more information, call Cory Pulver at 760-992-0469 .

PPE Donations

DAP called for personal protective equipment (PPE) donations, and many in the community are answering. We continue to desperately need items such as unused medical gowns, gloves, goggles, masks, sewn cloth masks, and shoe covers. If you’d like to donate, please click here to contact Shelia Barnett via email or click here to call 760-818-5219.

Social Services

Our Social Services staff is making sure our clients can obtain and retain their Ryan White services by using the phone, e-mails, and fax, when shelter-in-place means they cannot come to DAP to fill out paperwork.

Assistance continues, including food, transportation, and housing programs for eligible clients, regardless of HIV status.

Patient-Centered care from the comfort o …

Mobile phone, laptop screen and tablet screen

Patient-Centered care from the comfort of your home.

We are proud to offer a digital solution that ensures your continuum of care from the comfort of your home. MyChart Virtual Visit is an easy and reliable way for you to meet with your clinician.

You still have the option for an in-person meeting with your clinician in our Blue Clinic or Green Clinic on the DAP campus.

More choices to access the great care you’ve become accustomed to from DAP is one more way we deliver Patient-Centered Care to our community.

It’s my first time doing a Virtual Visit with DAP – what do I need to start?

To begin your Virtual Visit:

Download the MyChart App Click here to download the MyChart app for iOS or click here to download the MyChart app for android.

Login to DAP’s MyChart  https://mychart.ochin.org/mychartdap/Authentication/Login?, scroll down to the bottom of the welcome page and click PRECHECK-IN, complete the check on steps, then click BEGIN VIDEO VISIT.

Need help getting started with Virtual Visit?

Please click here to call 760-656-8412.

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