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.