Opening of DAP Health’s New Orange Clinic Officially Commemorated
On the evening of Wednesday, February 15, some 75 invitees attended the formal ribbon-cutting of DAP Health’s new Orange Clinic, which is devoted to sexual wellness and housed in the Annette Bloch CARE Building at the main Palm Springs headquarters.
The occasion marked yet another important milestone for Vision Forward, the organization’s 10-year strategic plan that will see it grow to serve 25,000 patients a year by 2025 thanks to expanded medical, dental, and mental health clinics and a new on-campus affordable housing complex that will add 60 units at Vista Sunrise II to the existing 81 units at Vista Sunrise.
As guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres provided with compliments of major donor Jerry Keller’s Lulu California Bistro, DAP Health CEO David Brinkman took center stage first, announcing that 90% of Vision Forward’s required funding has been amassed, but stressing that $6 million remains to be raised.
Brinkman went on to thank not only the late, great Annette Bloch and her daughter Linda Lyon — who together bequeathed a total of $4 million to the effort — but other major campaign patrons such as Desert Care Network, Mark Adams and the Ridgeway-Adams Community Center, Dorothy and Mel Lefkowitz (in memory of Keller’s wife, Barbara), Steve Tobin and Johnny Krupa of the Grace Helen Spearman Charitable Foundation (whose donation endowed the Orange Clinic reception area), Mike Feddersen and Tom McClay (who funded the Blue Clinic lobby), DAP Health Board Chair Patrick Jordan, Board Secretary Mark Hamilton and Juan Francisco (who gave to establish the café that will reside in the future Tenet Health Pavilion), Charles Robbins and Damon Romine (benefactors of Exam Room 1 in the Orange Clinic), Board Vice Chair Lauri Kibby, Board Member Kevin Bass and Brent Bloesser, Paul Kowal, Keith Kincaid and Chris Harms, DAP Health Chief Financial Officer Judy Stith, and Lulu’s Keller.
“From Day One, demand has been high and so has patient satisfaction,” continued Brinkman, speaking specifically to sexual wellness needs in the Coachella Valley — including free HIV and STI testing as well as prevention services such as PrEP and PEP. “But one thing was missing — a permanent home. A suitable home. A home that says everyone is welcome and everyone deserves to be cared for in a clean, professional, and dignified environment.”
Orange Clinic Nurse Practitioner Anna Daymon spoke more to that point when she related the story of a transgender patient, Erica, who is living with HIV and who had refused to seek care in the past for fear of attitudes of unenlightened health care professionals. “Erica immediately connected with our Orange Clinic staff, speaking openly with our nurses Chris and Johnny without embarrassment,” said Daymon. “She was shocked by the support that DAP Health’s team provided, which included transportation and insurance assistance. What she realized is that staying in care is actually really easy when one has the right team caring for you. At DAP Health, we accept all people — sex workers, male, female, and trans alike. They all come to the Orange Clinic because they know they’re going to receive competent, compassionate care without stigma or judgment.”
Before noting that in 2022, 5000 patients were cared for at the Orange Clinic — free of cost, as well — Daymon said many patients refer to themselves as “bad” or “stupid” for their actions. “Shaming themselves, just for living,” she revealed. “I simply say, ‘No’ to shame. It’s just sex. You’re just living your life and you’re taking care of yourself and others by being here today. And we got you.”
Charles Robbins — who has spent most of his life working in LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS nonprofit spaces — spoke last, adding to Daymon’s message on behalf of himself and of his husband, Damon Romine. “DAP Health is sex-positive,” he affirmed. “The staff is sex-positive. We know that in the Coachella Valley, and especially here in Palm Springs, there’s a lot of sex going on and we love it! It’s healthy, and we want to make sure people are not only taking care of themselves but of the community. That’s why coming in and getting regular testing and treatment is such an important activity. The fact that they can do so in a stigma-free and beautiful environment — that’s why my husband, Damon, and I decided to make an investment. We believe in this community. The work the staff does here is making a difference, making an impact in people’s lives. That’s why we made a gift. We’re just happy to be part of the family.”
It was at that point that Robbins, Krupa, and Tobin took giant orange scissors and — flanked by Brinkman, staff members, and other donors — cut the long orange ribbon, proving that, at DAP Health, everyone is part of the family.