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

Five minutes with Dr. Tulika Singh

Five minutes with Dr. Tulika Singh

By Robert Hopwood

Dr. Tulika Singh is the director of research at DAP Health. She is a board-certified HIV specialist, infectious disease and internal medicine physician who has been working in HIV care since 2009.

Singh was born in India, where she went to medical school. She moved to the United States to enhance her education and completed her residency in Ohio. Her sister moved to Canada, but her mother still lives in India.

Before joining DAP Health, Singh completed an infectious disease fellowship in Wisconsin. She then worked at a couple of Michigan hospitals as a primary care, infectious disease specialist and an HIV specialist.

Since moving to California, Singh has settled into the Palm Springs lifestyle and has made the desert her home. People may be surprised to learn that Singh found her home on HGTV’s “House Hunters” show after moving to the Coachella Valley.

Learn more about one of the members of DAP Health’s care team.

Question: How did you get into HIV research?

Answer: I love doing research. That’s my newest passion. During my infectious disease fellowship from 2009 to 2011, I was awarded a prestigious award for my research. I then waited until I could do HIV-related research here at DAP Health.

Q. What did you want to do when you were young?

I wanted to be a dermatologist. But I started to see people with infections get better with the right antimicrobials and go on to live healthy lives. That’s when my passion shifted toward infectious diseases.

Q: Yoga is an integral part of your life. When did you start practicing it?

A: I started doing yoga in India when I was a toddler. Every morning I would do yoga with my father and sister before going to school. I continue to practice it for flexibility, peace of mind and its overall health benefits.

Q: You travel a lot. Where are your favorite places to visit?

A: I love traveling. I go to Mexico a lot, almost every three to four months. I have a timeshare there too, in Cabo. I also like vacationing in Hawaii. In summer I visit my sister in Toronto.

Q: How do you maintain an active lifestyle while traveling?

A: I used to travel quite a bit before COVID-19 happened. I was staying at hotels sometimes where there were no gyms or swimming pools. But I continued my lifestyle. I did yoga in my hotel room in the morning or went hiking or completed a seven-minute quick workout on my phone. I got my exercise out of the way, took a shower and was ready to start my day.

DAP Health marks World Hepatitis Day wit …

DAP Health marks World Hepatitis Day with hepatitis C forum

By Robert Hopwood, DAP Health

World Hepatitis Day 2021 on Wednesday, July 28, was an opportunity for health care providers, activists, patients and their loved ones to increase awareness of a disease that kills more than one million people a year.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that causes severe liver disease and hepatocellular cancer, according to the World Health Organization. There are five main strains of the virus — A, B, C, D and E. The most common are hepatitis B and C, which result in 1.1 million deaths and 3 million new infections per year.

Health officials have set the goal of eliminating hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, according to the WHO. The theme of this year’s World Hepatitis Day underscores the urgency to eradicate the disease, “Hepatitis Can’t Wait.”

More: Hepatitis Care at DAP Health

DAP Health sponsored our third hepatitis C forum Wednesday for Coachella Valley recovery centers and partners. Speakers included C.J. Tobe, director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness Services at DAP Health; Jose De La Cruz, DAP Community Health educator; Dr. Shubha Kerkar, director of Infectious Diseases at DAP Health; Guillermo Ramos, Community Health Early Intervention manager at DAP Health; Andy Ansell, PrEP program manager at DAP Health; Michael Smith from the Ranch Recovery Center; and Liz Chavez Hacienda Valdez from the Ranch Recovery Center.

For hepatitis C resources, testing and care, contact DAP Health at (760) 323-2118.

Attendees at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
Attendees at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
C.J. Tobe speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
C.J. Tobe speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
Dr. Shubha Kerkar speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
Dr. Shubha Kerkar speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
From left, Jose De La Cruz, Dr. Shubha Kerkar and an attendee pose together for a photo at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
From left, Jose De La Cruz, Dr. Shubha Kerkar and an attendee pose together for a photo at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
Andy Ansell speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
Andy Ansell speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.

DAP Health to open registration for Dese …

Desert AIDS Walk

DAP Health to open registration for Desert AIDS Walk 2021  

By Steven Henke

More than 2,000 local humanitarians will come together to end the HIV epidemic, expand healthcare access, and remember those friends and family members who we lost because of AIDS.   

The 2021 Desert AIDS Walk will be an in-person event Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, beginning at Ruth Hardy Park and following a route through downtown Palm Springs. The family and pet-friendly event includes a Health and Wellness Festival presented by Walgreens. Registration opens August 2. 

The annual Desert AIDS Walk helps fund the vital work of DAP Health. “We remain committed to ending the epidemic and caring for people living with HIV. That work includes the vital services we offer, including HIV prevention and specialty care, STI screening and treatment, housing support, benefits navigation, medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare,” says DAP Health CEO David Brinkman. 

This year marks 40 years of HIV with the first reported cases about what would become known as HIV and AIDS published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Brinkman says, “AIDS taught us a community response is the most effective response. It taught us that we cannot turn our backs when communities are in need and in fear, that we must remember our humanity and the gift of giving back and be there to help. And as we have learned through our recent human rights and health equity movements, equality cannot be experienced by one until it is experienced by all.” 

Since 1984, residents of the Coachella Valley have been coming together as a community in action caring for those living with and now aging with HIV. DAP Health Chief Development and Strategy Officer Darrell Tucci says, “Desert AIDS Walk brings together the collective power of community and our shared vision of a future where everyone has the comprehensive care they need to live their best lives.”  

After 40 years, public health officials and activists see a pathway to end the AIDS epidemic. It starts with treatment.  

With proper medical care, those living with HIV can reduce the viral load in their blood to an undetectable level. When HIV can’t be detected it can’t be transmitted, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). 

Health officials and activists are now championing the message that undetectable equals untransmittable, or U=U.   

The U=U campaign also aims to end the stigma around HIV. That stigma keeps too many people from getting tested for HIV or obtaining the care they need to stay healthy. The result of 40 years of research is that people living with HIV can suppress the virus and live long lives with medication.  

A commitment to health equity 

DAP Health’s care team and experts are making a conscious effort to talk about health equity more, because the CDC and the CDPH both say we need health equity for people if we’re going to beat COVID-19. 

“Health equity means that everyone has the opportunity to be healthy based on their needs, not on their ability to pay,” says Brinkman. “It also means no one should feel like an outsider once they come inside to see a doctor or psychologist. 

“But getting people to take that first step can be difficult.” 

Discrimination — against the poor, LGBTQ individuals and racial minorities — also increases the likelihood people will avoid essential care. 

“If you’re told by society over and over again that you’re bad, wrong, inferior and not good enough, then you come to believe it after a while,” says Dr. Jill Gover, a licensed clinical psychologist who leads DAP Health’s Behavioral Health department. “And with the inadequacy comes shame.” 

“The intersection of oppression and poverty can create feelings of unworthiness, which are barriers to care,” she says. 

To break down these barriers, DAP Health is making it easier for people to ask for help in several important ways. DAP Health has culturally competent doctors and therapists who can see patients from home, or onsite at the DAP campus. Social-services access has also been expanded for help with life essentials during this pandemic. 

DAP Health’s dedication to cultural humility has its care team leaning in to get to know their patients, instead of assuming a one-size-fits-all approach works. 

 

DAP Health to open registration for Desert AIDS Walk 2021  

By Steven Henke

More than 2,000 local humanitarians will come together to end the HIV epidemic, expand healthcare access, and remember those friends and family members who we lost because of AIDS.   

The 2021 Desert AIDS Walk will be an in-person event Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, beginning at Ruth Hardy Park and following a route through downtown Palm Springs. The family and pet-friendly event includes a Health and Wellness Festival presented by Walgreens. Registration opens August 2. 

The annual Desert AIDS Walk helps fund the vital work of DAP Health. “We remain committed to ending the epidemic and caring for people living with HIV. That work includes the vital services we offer, including HIV prevention and specialty care, STI screening and treatment, housing support, benefits navigation, medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare,” says DAP Health CEO David Brinkman. 

This year marks 40 years of HIV with the first reported cases about what would become known as HIV and AIDS published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Brinkman says, “AIDS taught us a community response is the most effective response. It taught us that we cannot turn our backs when communities are in need and in fear, that we must remember our humanity and the gift of giving back and be there to help. And as we have learned through our recent human rights and health equity movements, equality cannot be experienced by one until it is experienced by all.” 

Since 1984, residents of the Coachella Valley have been coming together as a community in action caring for those living with and now aging with HIV. DAP Health Chief Development and Strategy Officer Darrell Tucci says, “Desert AIDS Walk brings together the collective power of community and our shared vision of a future where everyone has the comprehensive care they need to live their best lives.”  

After 40 years, public health officials and activists see a pathway to end the AIDS epidemic. It starts with treatment.  

With proper medical care, those living with HIV can reduce the viral load in their blood to an undetectable level. When HIV can’t be detected it can’t be transmitted, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). 

Health officials and activists are now championing the message that undetectable equals untransmittable, or U=U.   

The U=U campaign also aims to end the stigma around HIV. That stigma keeps too many people from getting tested for HIV or obtaining the care they need to stay healthy. The result of 40 years of research is that people living with HIV can suppress the virus and live long lives with medication.  

A commitment to health equity 

DAP Health’s care team and experts are making a conscious effort to talk about health equity more, because the CDC and the CDPH both say we need health equity for people if we’re going to beat COVID-19. 

“Health equity means that everyone has the opportunity to be healthy based on their needs, not on their ability to pay,” says Brinkman. “It also means no one should feel like an outsider once they come inside to see a doctor or psychologist. 

“But getting people to take that first step can be difficult.” 

Discrimination — against the poor, LGBTQ individuals and racial minorities — also increases the likelihood people will avoid essential care. 

“If you’re told by society over and over again that you’re bad, wrong, inferior and not good enough, then you come to believe it after a while,” says Dr. Jill Gover, a licensed clinical psychologist who leads DAP Health’s Behavioral Health department. “And with the inadequacy comes shame.” 

“The intersection of oppression and poverty can create feelings of unworthiness, which are barriers to care,” she says. 

To break down these barriers, DAP Health is making it easier for people to ask for help in several important ways. DAP Health has culturally competent doctors and therapists who can see patients from home, or onsite at the DAP campus. Social-services access has also been expanded for help with life essentials during this pandemic. 

DAP Health’s dedication to cultural humility has its care team leaning in to get to know their patients, instead of assuming a one-size-fits-all approach works. 

 

Volunteers essential to fulfilling DAP H …

Volunteers essential to fulfilling DAP Health's mission

By Robert Hopwood

Volunteers are needed more than ever as DAP Health and Revivals Stores continue to expand across the Coachella Valley to meet the needs of the community.

DAP Health's sexual wellness clinic moved into a new space on July 6, 2021, and expanded its ability to treat more patients. Meanwhile, the health center's new Behavioral Health Clinic is set to open in September.

In May, Revivals Stores headed down Highway 111 and opened a new location in Indio, expanding into the east valley for the first time.

The new store, which needs about 40 volunteers, is expected to increase the resale chain's revenue. The profits from all four stores is sent to DAP Health, which uses the money to provide healthcare and other services to more than 9,700 people.

"The income from the Revivals Stores is an essential component of DAP Health's budgeting," Naishtut says.

Volunteers across DAP Health enable the health center to fulfill its mission of treating everyone who needs it with compassion, regardless of their ability to pay. 

Approximately 400 volunteers work at DAP Health and Revivals Stores, says Marcie Lerner, volunteer coordinator for Revivals. How many are active depends on the activities. During events like the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards or the Desert AIDS Walk, more volunteers are needed.

Where do these volunteers work? The answer is throughout DAP Health.

They staff both the welcome desk in the main building and at the health clinics. They work in finance and resource development. Volunteers work with community health and outreach; they assemble safer-sex kits; they help staff the food depot; and they do much more, says Larry Naishtut, volunteer services coordinator at DAP Health.

Volunteers also provide Reiki, sound baths, yoga, knitting classes and more, Lerner says.

Volunteers do about 80 percent of the staffing at Revivals Stores, Lerner says. 

They do all the processing, price items and work the cash registers, she says. They help stock the sales floor, sort donations and work in the dispatch office scheduling pickups and deliveries.

"At any given time, there may only be five staff members at the store on a shift and the rest would be volunteers," says Lerner.

Volunteers donate about 70,000 hours of their time each year to help DAP Health provide compassionate, integrated care, Naishtut says. So far this year, volunteers have only contributed about 33,000 hours.

Without them, DAP Health wouldn't offer or support as many services as they do, Naishtut says.

Revivals Stores about 175 active volunteers, says Lerner. Some of them have been there for 15,000 hours. They range from high school students to people in their late 80s. One volunteer is even in her 90s.

Lerner says the people who volunteer for DAP Health do it because they want to give back to the community. They feel it's important to help somebody. And they are passionate about the mission of DAP Health, and they want to contribute in some way.

"Not everybody can afford to write a check," says Lerner. "So a lot of people will volunteer their time, as opposed to just writing a check as a donor. "

DAP Health and Revivals need volunteers all year long, says Lerner. Many retirees have taken the summer off, and Revivals Stores needs more volunteers, she says.

"It's always a struggle to find enough volunteers," Lerner says.

Volunteer opportunities available right now include about 30 open positions at the Revivals Store in Indio.

In addition to other volunteer positions DAP Health has available, it's looking for a computer tutor and a Spanish-speaking person who can run a social support group (non-therapy).

For additional information or questions about volunteering at DAP Health or Revivals, please contact Larry Naishtut for information about volunteering at DAP Health at lnaishtut@daphealth.org and Marice Lerner at mlerner@daphealth.org for information about volunteering at Revivals Stores.

 

Meditate with Dr. G

Meditate with Dr. G

By Robert Hopwood

If you want to clear your mind, get rid of stress and find a little inner peace, consider meditation.

It can be done anytime and is a great way to start the day or finish it. That’s because mindfulness helps bring balance to our hectic lives.

A healthy life includes meditation time, says Dr. Jill Gover “Dr. G,” a licensed clinical psychologist who leads DAP Health’s Behavioral Health department. Downtime and rest are as important as physical activity. They keep our lives in balance.

“Meditation is a way of calming the mind, and in our very fast paced, stressful world, it's important for us to have moments where we calmly settle down and ground ourselves and meditation is a marvelous way to do that,” she says.

Mindfulness also is good for our physical health.

Research suggests meditation can help reduce blood pressure, improve irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression and insomnia, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Here are five meditation tips from Dr. G:

  • Start by meditating for short periods of time. Long meditations, like an hours-long meditation, would be way too difficult for a beginner.
  • Be compassionate and non-judgmental with yourself. Don’t worry about the self-talk in your head. It’s noise. Empty your mind. Imagine your thoughts are like clouds and watch them drift away. Then return your mind to what you were focused on, like your breath.
  • Find a comfortable place to sit when you meditate. It should be quiet and free of distractions.
  • Don’t worry about sitting still. If you sit in one position for too long, it’ll make you uncomfortable and start to hurt. It’s OK to move around.
  • Start with something simple, like your breath or a simple mantra. Sometimes it’s helpful to play tranquil music or use a taped guided meditation.

DAP Health Honors Annette Bloch

Annette Bloch at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards

DAP Health Honors Annette Bloch 

DAP Health honors the passing of philanthropist and beloved community leader Annette Bloch. Bloch will be remembered for meeting her personal goal of "improving the lives of others.” The philanthropist found joy in seeing her generous gifts change lives in Kansas City and Palm Springs, the communities she called home. 

Bloch became part of DAP Health’s (formerly Desert AIDS Project) response to the HIV/AIDS crisis after her friend Barbara Keller gave her a tour of the organization's campus. She commented afterward, “It took my breath away—there’s not another facility like it.”  

In 2012, Bloch donated $1 million to establish the Annette Bloch Cancer Care Center at DAP Health. Her gift enabled DAP Health to diagnose and treat dysplasia and to offer services to clients susceptible to cancer due to their HIV infection. At the time, DAP Health CEO David Brinkman explained the impact, “The extraordinary gift from Annette Bloch to DAP will allow us to broaden our base of medical care in a way that we could have only dreamed about before.” 

Bloch used her philanthropy to help DAP Health fulfill its mission of enhancing community health and well-being. She received its 100 Women Award at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards in 2013 for her support of programs helping women and children. And her endorsement invited countless others to fund the organization. 

In 2016, Bloch announced a $3 million gift during the 22nd Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards to fund the expansion of DAP Health's medical facilities. Brinkman, who counted Bloch as a close friend and an ally in the organization's advocacy-based healthcare work that today serves 9,700 individuals annually, recalls her passion for the organization's mission. “She was energized by her intention to make life better for anyone suffering. She often said, everyone, regardless of income, should have access to world-class healthcare. I remember showing her the plans for our new medical building and her saying, ‘I want to be the first one to get this building built. I’m going to give $3 million to start it.’” 

With the support of Bloch, DAP Health purchased the former Riverside County Health building on its campus and is in the process of renovating it. The building will be renamed the Annette Bloch Care Building to honor her legacy and impact. “Her investment enabled us to double our capacity, ensuring our doors to compassionate care remain open to everyone who walks through them seeking wellness.” Brinkman explains, “I will always remember her positive attitude, gratitude for life’s blessings, the value she placed on friendship and family, and as a woman who made a difference in the lives of others moving DAP Health boldly into the future in the process.”

‘Mental health is health’: D …

'Mental health is health': Dr. Gover talks about behavioral health care in the Coachella Valley

By Robert Hopwood

Mental health care is a significant need across the Coachella Valley.

In fact, according to a past community assessment, mental health services were identified as the greatest need for the Coachella Valley's LGBTQ+ community, says Dr. Jill Gover, known as "Dr. G," a licensed clinical psychologist and the director of Behavioral Health at DAP Health.

“Anxiety, depression and mood disorders are the major issues facing the LGBTQ+ and underserved communities currently.  It has been a very difficult and challenging time," Dr. G says, referring to the recent pandemic.

For too many, COVID-19 painfully exposed how important it is to have competent mental health care available.

To have true wellness, a person needs to have both mental health and physical health, Dr. G says. They are integrated. Someone can't have one without the other.

"Mental health is health," Dr. G says.

“If someone breaks their arm, they go to the doctor,” she explains. “If they've got something going on emotionally, they also need to go to the doctor. It’s what you need to do to stay healthy," Dr. G says.

She strongly advises people to seek out mental health services if they need them. People should not let any stigma around mental health keep them from getting the help they need.

"It's so important for people to reach out and get the help they need when they need it," she says.

Don't let excuses get in the way of competent mental health care.

Clinicians and patients have many options available to help them overcome barriers and make treatment more accessible, Dr. G says. For example, people without reliable transportation can use telehealth for virtual visits.

"Wherever patients are, whatever they need, we're here to provide care and to help them," Dr. G says.

Dr. G likes to say that therapy is a gift people give themselves to promote their own wellbeing during times of stress. She describes it as a journey patients take with their therapist.

“Patients may start therapy with a lot of negative core beliefs that say, ‘I’m not good enough.’ Through the therapeutic process, they develop a new way of looking at the world and themselves,” she says.

"It is such a rewarding thing to witness," Dr. G says. "And therapy is truly transformational for many people, truly transformational."

According to Dr. G, DAP Health has a wonderful staff of well-trained clinical psychologists and licensed clinical social workers who provide compassionate, affirmative LGBTQ+ affirmative care. 

She also is excited to announce the opening of the new Behavioral Health Clinic scheduled for September 2021.  The new clinic will allow for additional staffing and expanded psychotherapy services.  In addition, a partnership with UCR is bringing psychiatric services back to DAP Health,  starting in July.   

Sometimes it's difficult for people to reach out for help, Dr. G explains, especially when they are in a deep depression, highly anxious, or struggling with multiple life issues. Some people may not think they are worthy of help or know where to turn to get it.

"It's really important to recognize that DAP Health is just one phone call away," Dr. G says. "Pick up that phone and make that first call. And once you get to the services and start on this wonderful journey that I call therapy, great things will happen."

DAP Health can be reached at (760) 323-2118.

Protect yourself from the sun to avoid s …

Protect yourself from the sun to avoid skin cancer, premature aging; blindness

By Robert Hopwood

The sun, which draws so many to the desert to relax by the pool and work on their tans, also is a big health hazard. The desert is known for very sunny days and blue skies, which keeps companies like Airbnb happy. But at this time of year, when the mercury heads for the stratosphere, it's essential to protect our bodies from the sun's harmful rays.

The ultraviolet radiation coming from our favorite star can seriously harm us. The sun gives off three types of UV radiation, UVA, UVB and UVC. It's UVA radiation that causes the most harm. Earth's ozone layer completely absorbs UVC radiation, it absorbs most of the UVB radiation, but it doesn't absorb UVA radiation at all.

"We need to worry about it," says Dr. David Morris, chief medical officer of DAP Health.

We evolved on this planet, bathed in UV radiation. We need it. UVA radiation penetrates our skin and creates vitamin D, which helps our bodies absorb calcium and phosphorus. It also helps our bones develop, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Too much sunshine can cause more than a nasty sunburn. According to the CDC, UV exposure can cause skin cancer, premature aging, and eye diseases that can lead to blindness.

The CDC says skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and the most common types of skin cancer are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. But melanoma is the worst, says Morris. It kills thousands every year. Another hazard is actinic keratosis, which is a rough, scaly skin patch. It's slow to develop but can become cancerous.

"The big ones are actinic keratosis and melanoma," says Dr. Morris. "Those are the ones that we worry about."

How much sun is safe? "What we say is 30 minutes a day will give you all the vitamin D you need," says Morris.

July is UV Safety Awareness Month. And summer is the best time to think about UV radiation and how to protect ourselves. Below are ways to avoid getting too much sun and cut your risk of developing skin cancer.

Wear sunscreen

If you will be in the sun — even when the UV index is low — remember the sunscreen. Apply, reapply and apply again. Use sunscreen on every part of the body exposed to the sun, which includes your ears. Morris says in the desert, you should look for a sunscreen that's at least 30 SPF.

Dress properly

It's hot here but resist the urge to remove layers to stay cool. Instead, put them on. Watch people who work outside in the intense sunlight. They wear pants, long sleeve shirts and wide brim hats. Morris says they are doing it right.

Wear sunglasses

Wear sunglasses that offer 100 percent UV protection to avoid damaging your eyes. This is important because UV radiation can burn the cornea; increase your odds of getting cataracts; cause pterygium, in which a flesh membrane covers the eye; and lead to macular degeneration, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Stay in the shade

When you go outside, stay in the shade. Remember clouds aren't shade. "UV rays go through the clouds," says Morris. "People say, 'Oh, it's a cloudy day, and I don't have to worry.' Well, that's not true." You can get a nasty sunburn even on cloudy days.

Avoid going outside when the UV index is high

UV radiation levels fluctuate during the day. Go outside when the UV index is low, and avoid the sun when radiation is highest, usually after 11 a.m. You can download apps for your phone — Android or iPhone — that will tell you the UV index for your location. You also can find the UV index online.

Do a body check

Skin cancer can form anywhere on, or even in, your body. Check your skin regularly. If you see something that isn't right, see your clinician. Ask your partner to look at the areas of your skin that you cannot see, like your back and scalp. Morris advises people to have their clinician check them once a year.

Don't use indoor tanning beds

Indoor tanning beds can damage your skin as much as the sun can. They are just as dangerous. Other sources of UV radiation are mercury vapor lights, often found in stadiums and school gyms; some types of halogen, fluorescent and incandescent lights; sunlamps; and some types of lasers, according to the CDC.

DAP Health removes barriers and improves …

Contact: Steven Henke, Director of Brand Marketing

Phone: (612) 310-3047

Email: shenke@daphealth.org

 

DAP Health removes barriers and improves health equity by offering free PrEP, PEP, HIV and Hep C testing as well as STI testing and treatment


For the first time, all services provided by the DAP Health sexual wellness clinic will be offered to everyone for free. This change begins July 6, 2021.

DAP Health anticipates a surge in sexual activity as the COVID-19 pandemic slowly fades away, resulting in a potential rise in STIs and HIV infections.

“In fact, the health clinic saw an increase in STIs and HIV throughout the pandemic,” said C.J. Tobe, director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness Services for DAP Health. “We are proactively protecting the community’s health if these trends should continue.”

"To best respond to a potential public health crisis such as a surge in STIs or HIV, we are offer- ing all sexual wellness services for free for at least the next six months,” said Dustin Gruber, senior marketing manager at DAP Health.

Free services will include STI testing — gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis — and treatment; pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP; post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP; and HIV and hepatitis C testing.

If anyone tests positive for HIV, the sexual wellness clinic will provide that person with rapid start medication and linkage to care, an essential step in reducing new HIV infections and improving the health outcomes of the person living with HIV. While the cost of ongoing HIV treatment is not part of the free services, DAP Health is offering financial assistance.

DAP Health continues to make sexual wellness a priority by providing more people with more access to health services. It also continues to expand its ability to treat more people.

DAP Health's sexual wellness clinic will have its own space, named the Orange Clinic. The name continues the health center's tradition of naming its clinics after Chakra colors.

The Orange Clinic opens July 6, 2021.

"The Orange Clinic will prioritize the need for sexual wellness services," said Tobe. "We are setting up an entire clinic including staffing to meet the demand."

The sexual wellness clinic will offer patients a judgment-free space where they can get routine sexual health testing and treatment, said Gruber.

"We welcome all people, period. And now we are eliminating more barriers to access sexual wellness services that have been ongoing for decades," Tobe said while explaining why DAP Health has decided to offer free sexual wellness services.

One of those barriers is cost. DAP Health learned many of the people testing positive for STIs and HIV tended to be those with limited incomes, Tobe says. For them, the prior $25 fee for STI testing and PrEP was an impediment to care. DAP Health decided to remove that cost barrier to improve health equity.

"Ending the syndemic in the region is about improving access to these services and not leong cost be a barrier to prevent people from coming in our doors," says Tobe.

How often should a person seek out sexual health services? That depends on their sexual activity, says Trent Broadus, a nurse practitioner at DAP Health.

If a person is monogamous but may have sex infrequently with another partner, for example, then that person may want to get tested twice a year, Broadus says. Conversely, those who have frequent sexual encounters with multiple partners should get tested frequently.

"Whether they get tested once a month, once every three months or only annually, I encourage them to think of it based on their sexual activity and where they find themselves on the scale," advises Broadus.

He also says a person with symptoms related to a sexual encounter should "definitely come in."

DAP Health provides sexual wellness services in the Orange Clinic, located at 1695 N. Sunrise Way in Palm Springs. Operating hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are strongly encouraged. Call (760) 323-2118 to schedule an appointment.

 

C.J. Tobe: Success of DAP Health’s mob …

C.J. Tobe: Success of DAP Health’s mobile clinic occurs every time it is in the community

By Robert Hopwood

A homeless man showed up at DAP Health’s mobile clinic to get clothes and other services. The gentleman came for winter clothes, STI and HIV testing, and hygiene kits.

C.J. Tobe, director of Community Health for DAP Health, watched as he created a jumble with the winter clothes donated by Revivals Stores, DAP Health’s retail partner. Tobe then asked if he could help.

“I am so sorry to bother you if I am making a mess and taking a long time,” he said. “My eyes are bad, and I can’t see the size.”

“You can take as much time as you need, and I’ll gladly help you find your size if you can tell it to me,” Tobe said. “I have a hearing disability and can’t hear well, so please speak up if you wish.”

“I can’t see, and you can’t hear, looks like we will make a good team,” he said. “I am a large and size 36.”

“We are in this together,” Tobe said as he searched for the man’s sizes.

This story is about one of the many encounters Tobe has had with DAP Health’s mobile team.

“Any time I am able to break away from meetings and join our mobile team in the community, I am reminded how much our services are needed, how much they are appreciated, and how one conversation can change a life,” Tobe said.

We talked with C.J. Tobe about the mobile clinic and its future. Here are his answers.

Question: How long have you been working with the mobile clinic?

Answer: I have been working with the mobile clinic for almost three years. However, the mobile clinic has been with DAP Health since the onset of the Get Tested Coachella Valley Campaign that launched in 2014.

Q: Where do you take the mobile clinic?

A: To homeless encampments throughout the Coachella Valley; organizations that support our homeless neighbors, like Well in the Desert, Martha’s Village and the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission; The James O Jessie Unity Center; treatment facilities and recovery centers; health fairs; food distribution sites; and more.

Q. Who do you meet when you go out with the mobile clinic?

A: We see everyone through the mobile clinic because DAP Health accepts all people. Period. Typically, the people we see are unable to come to us because one of the many social determinants of health prevents them from seeking services.

Q. What is one of the biggest misconceptions about the mobile clinic?

A: That it only provides HIV testing. The mobile clinic now offers many more services.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with the mobile clinic(s)?

A: I hope the mobile clinic is one of many significant ways of addressing health inequities that have been going on for centuries. I hope the mobile clinics represent our commitment to the community who cannot seek medical services on their own. I hope our compassionate mobile staff re-establish trust in communities that may have been mistreated, stigmatized, or not heard from for far too long.

Q: How would you like to see the mobile clinic evolve?

I’d also like to see the mobile clinic evolve into a robust, stigma-free, compassionate sexual wellness clinic providing testing, treatment, community resources, insurance enrollment, and linkage to ongoing healthcare services at the place of the client’s choosing. I want to see the mobile clinic save more lives than it already has by coming to where people are located. I want the community to know that we know you are struggling even though we may not fully understand, so talk to us, let us support you on your journey.

Q: How did the pandemic impact the work of Community Health?

A: The biggest regret I have is not being able to provide mobile services on a larger scale to the community quicker than we have. The COVID-19 pandemic showed how vital mobile services are and how quickly they may be needed. My impatience may be a flaw, but it drives me to continue improving access to vital services to the community.

Q. How do you measure success?

To me, outside of achieving grant deliverables and internal programmatic goals, the success of the mobile clinic occurs every time it is out in the community because people are receiving food, drinks and hygiene kits; getting tested; learning their status; getting treated; and connecting to community resources they wouldn’t have before..

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