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

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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.   

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, A …

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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.

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday Ap …

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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.

This Weekend Wrap for March 28th feature …

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This Weekend Wrap for March 28th features updates from Desert AIDS Project’s Chief Executive Officer, David Brinkman

We are living in unprecedented times. It’s been two weeks since DAP opened its COVID-19 Triage clinic and put out the first call for community support to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In that time, we've seen over 90 patients in the urgent clinic, screening and treating each one, and testing only those who were sickest.

All week long, we've been sharing updates on our website, Facebook and Instagram pages but in case you missed it, here are some of our top stories.

Clinical & Programming Updates

  • DAP launched Tele-Health services for patients and clients who are not able to come to our campus for care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting Monday, patients can access their medical, psychotherapy, and psychiatry healthcare through their smartphones, iPads, or desktop computers.
  • 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

    • Sexual Health at The DOCK

    • Social Services like case management, food assistance, transportation, housing and home care.

    • COVID-19 Triage Clinic

  • The DOCK, temporarily housed in DAP’s Green Clinic, continued to see patients who have questions about their sexual health, testing for STI's and HIV while our PrEP navigators continued to work with those who want access to the prevention technique.
  • DAP's Social Service and Community Health teams launched home delivery of essential supplies, including food for our most vulnerable home-bound clients ensuring they don't need to leave their home to go to the grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • DAP created a series of Spanish language videos and blog content to ensure everyone has access to the same life-saving information.
  • DAP's Client Wellness team launched a series of ZOOM meetings to connect clients in recovery to the groups that met at DAP before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Yoga sessions and guest speakers will roll-out next week.
  • DAP has had to re-adjust its operations in the wake of COVID-19. It has meant:
    • Making Telemedicine available to our clients through our MyChart client portal, which will enable them to continue in care if they are required to stay at home.

    • Suspending non-urgent dental appointments at our Dental Clinic, in accordance with the American Dental Association recommended guidelines.

    • Halting housecleaning, cooking and laundry for our Home Health clients, after the California Department of Public Health and other regulatory organizations issued strict guidelines protecting workers.

DAP in the News

Community Updates

Through email and phone calls, we’ve continued to share with you updates from the frontline of our clinical work, having tested our first positive cases and the stories from grateful patients. In response to all of these, nearly 300 of you have answered our call. THANK YOU!  We could not be more grateful. With $300,000 raised we have $1,150,000 left to raise.

Through these calls for your support, I have also received responses of concern asking, “why such a financial emergency?” And “How could a healthcare organization lay off staff in the middle of an emergency?”.

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DAP was forced to close our three Revivals stores and our Dental Clinic foregoing the revenue from each.

  • We've had to cancel our Dining Out for Life fundraiser which raised $360,000, last year alone.

  • With many of our patients being in a high-risk group due to their age, our paid clinical visits and behavioral health clinic visits are down as well.

  • We responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by opening a Triage Clinic to screen, test, and treat respiratory illness.

  • Altogether, we anticipate revenue losses from now through June 30, 2020, of $2.5 million. Hence, we took swift action to stabilize the organization financially so that our core work of serving the 7,000 community members who call DAP their healthcare home remains uninterrupted during and after this crisis is over.

Be assured, our frontline clinical teams remain intact to provide daily care as well as COVID-19 triage services.

If you questions about COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 FAQ's for information in both English and Spanish. If you believe you might be symptomatic or need information about testing, please call our COVID-19 hotline at (760) 992-0407.

David Brinkman
Chief Executive Officer

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