District News

January 04, 2018


November 17, 2017


May 12, 2017


2016 NEWS


Seventeen free, air-conditioned centers now open for seniors and residents. The first heat wave of the summer has hit Coachella Valley and Riverside County. On June 3, the National Weather Services issued an excessive heat advisory for the deserts and Inland Empire with temperatures 15 to 20 degrees above the average. In response to this warm weather warning, Cooling Centers for seniors and local residents without air conditioning in their homes are now open across Coachella Valley and throughout the Desert Healthcare District.

These Cooling Centers are free and available for residents of all ages. When temperatures climb higher than 90 degrees, these centers open their doors for individuals who do not have access to air conditioning.

Coachella Valley experienced soaring temperatures between 111 to 115 degrees last weekend, with high temperatures expected throughout the rest of the month and summer season.

Excessive heat of this nature can cause a variety of negative health effects and individuals are at high risk for a variety of medical conditions, including heat stroke and heat illness, and should take extra precautions. When possible, limit physical activity to only the morning or evening hours, and know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

There are seventeen Cooling Centers now open in Coachella Valley. The information is listed below and is available at Coachella Valley Health in Play (cvHIP), an online directory of resources in Coachella Valley. It also includes resources for services including healthcare, food pantries, recreation, and counseling.

 Cooling Center at Joslyn Senior Center: 73750 Catalina Way, Palm Desert, CA 92260

 Cooling Center at Palm Desert Community Center: 43900 San Pablo Avenue, Palm Desert, CA 92260

 Cooling Center at Eisenhower Medical Center Lobby: 39000 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

 Cooling Center at La Quinta Senior Center: 78450 Avenida La Fonda, La Quinta, CA 92253

 Cooling Center at Community Center at Tierra Del Sol: 37-171 W. Buddy Rodgers Avenue, Cathedral City, CA 92234

 Cooling Center at Indio Senior Center: 45-222 Towne Avenue, Indio, CA 92201

 Cooling Center at Mizell Senior Center: 480 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262

 Cooling Center at Desert Resource Center: 1911 Baristo Road, Palm Springs, CA 92262

 Cooling Center at Coachella Senior Center: 1570 7Th Street, Coachella, CA 92236

 Cooling Center at James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center: 480 Tramview Road, Palm Springs, CA 92262

 Cooling Center at Thermal Senior Center: 87-229 Church Street, Thermal, CA 92274

 Cooling Center at The Well in the Desert: 1281 N. Gene Autry Trial, Suite O, Palm Springs, CA 92262

 Cooling Center at Desert Hot Springs Senior Center: 11-777 West Drive, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240

 Cooling Center at Boys & Girls Club of Desert Hot Springs: 66150 8th Street, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240

 The Eleanor Senior Center in the City of Coachella: 1540 Seventh Street, Coachella, CA 92236

 The LGBT Community Center of the Desert: 611 South Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 201, Palm Springs, CA 92264

 Coachella Valley Senior Center: 1540 7th Street, Coachella, CA 92236

For more information and to find a Cooling Center near you, visit cvHIP’s directory at: http://directory.cvhip.com/locations?keyword=cooling+center&location=&utf8=✓


Four-year, $4 million grant advances health care outcomes and addresses shortage of local physicians

Supported by a $4 million grant, the Desert Healthcare District and the University of Riverside (UCR) School of Medicine have advanced health care access and outcomes in the Coachella Valley.

The District’s four-year investment was focused on expanding access to primary medical care for residents through Coachella Valley. The grant provided infrastructure and support for the accreditation and enrollment of medical students at UCR School of Medicine, the hiring of primary care physicians and creation of a family medicine center, and long-term sustainability and training of new physicians to improve the health of people throughout the District.

The Desert Healthcare District was the first local agency to fund the UCR School of Medicine and establish the community-based medical school envisioned for Inland Southern California – the first public medical school on the west coast in more than 40 years.

“Access to healthcare is fundamental to a healthy community,” said William J. Grimm, D.O., President of Desert Healthcare District’s Board of Directors. “Investing in the University of Riverside School of Medicine to bring in and train more family medicine physicians in the Coachella Valley is a crucial piece to advancing health outcomes of District residents; to partner with the school to make this happen was the proper and strategic thing to do.”

Accreditation and Enrollment

At the time the grant was awarded, the School of Medicine had not yet secured the preliminary accreditation required to recruit its first medical student class, due largely to a lack of funding. The District’s investment forged a path for other non-state investors to step up and in October 2012, the School of Medicine received preliminary accreditation. The school was then able to enroll its first class of 50 medical students in August 2013. Next month, the School of Medicine will enroll its fourth class and bring its total enrollment to 210 medical students.

More Local Doctors

Prior to 2010, the District had a severe shortage of primary care physicians, with only one physician for 13,000 residents. Today, that ratio has improved to one primary care physician to 5,000 residents. The ramp up continues, and that ratio is expected to improve in the next few years to one primary care physician to 3,000 residents.

The District’s grant supported the hiring of 10 primary care physicians in Coachella Valley and creation of a family medicine center. These physicians have established a medical training platform, trained new medical students and residents, and treated patients without regard to their ability to pay.

The established 13,000 square-foot practice, operated by First Choice Physician Partners (FCPP) and staffed by UCR Health Family Medicine Center physicians, features 20 exam rooms, two procedure rooms, triage room, group counseling, and educational space for the UCR residency program, and continues to see approximately 1,200 patients per month.

Training Physicians in Coachella Valley

As of July 1, 2016, there will be 16 resident physicians engaged in the School of Medicine’s Family Medicine Residency Program. The residents are training at Desert Regional Medical Center, the UCR Health Family Medicine Center, and community-based locations. At full maturity in July 2017, the program will have a total of 24 resident physicians in training.

The Residency Program has also initiated a street medicine program with volunteer-based teams that provide in-person treatment, referrals to free local services, and social care to the most underserved populations in the Coachella Valley. Teams including a physician, resident physicians, registered nurse, social worker and non-medical volunteers mobilize on food to reach target populations with unmet health needs.

After four years and $4 million in funding, the Desert Healthcare District and University of Riverside School of Medicine have substantially expanded access to primary medical care for District residents throughout the Coachella Valley.


Dr. Howell Wechsler to share exciting school progress

 Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and former director of the Division of Adolescent and School Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be at the Desert Healthcare Foundation meeting on Tuesday, February 23rd to share the exciting progress being made in the Coachella Valley towards reducing childhood obesity.

Nationwide, one out of three children are overweight. In Coachella Valley, the statistics are even higher. According to the HARC Community Monitor, in 2013, among all children in the Coachella Valley, 40% were considered overweight or obese. With support from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and funded by Desert Healthcare Foundation, Coachella Valley schools are working to reverse this alarming trend.

The Desert Healthcare Foundation grant, which totals $829,851 over four years, has been in place since 2012. The results so far are promising. Take, for example, Theodore Roosevelt Elementary in Desert Sands. In October of 2013, when the school decided to join the Healthy Schools Program, the norm on the Roosevelt campus was for candy to be used for academic rewards and student incentives. Trays of cupcakes came through the school office daily for birthday and holiday celebrations. Chocolate milk and Cheetos® were popular at lunch time, and students averaged only 10 to 13 minutes of physical activity during P.E. classes. The school ranked last on the California FITNESSGRAM among the 21 elementary schools in the district.

Today, Theodore Roosevelt Elementary ranks fourth out of the 21 schools. A school Wellness Committee was created, comprised of parents, teachers, staff and students. They implemented a school health index to identify unhealthy behaviors on campus and develop a plan for change. Lunch now offers healthier options including a salad bar and food is no longer used for rewards or incentives. The amount of time that students spend being active each day was increased substantially. Roosevelt Elementary received a silver award from the national Healthy Schools program in 2015 and is working towards a gold award, “Roosevelt’s Road to Gold.”

There are many other examples of schools moving towards an environment of health and wellness.

 75 out of 85 Coachella Valley public schools have enrolled in the Healthy Schools Program.

 The percentage of schools with breakfast and lunch programs fully in place rose from 0% at baseline to 80% (56 schools) as of December 2015.

 88% (64 schools) report their students are active at least 50% of class time during physical education, and 84% (61 schools) have licensed physical education teachers.

 45% (33 schools) provide access to physical activity facilities outside school hours

“We are thrilled with the progress Coachella Valley schools are making,” said Kathy Greco, CEO of the Desert Healthcare Foundation. “From principals to teachers to parents and students, everyone is recognizing the importance of our children’s health and stepping up to create change.”

About The Alliance for a Healthier Generation

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is a catalyst for children’s health. They work with schools, companies, community organizations, healthcare professionals, and families to transform the conditions and systems that lead to healthier kids. Their goal is to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity and to empower kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits

What’s New

New Leadership Keeps the Focus on Transformation and Expansion

COACHELLA VALLEY – January 4, 2018 – The New Year promises to be one of continuing transformation as Desert Healthcare District/Foundation Board Member Les Zendle, MD, takes the helm as president. “As I enter my second year on the Board, I am thrilled to lead the charge for the organization with a focus on services, programs and facilities, especially centered on behavioral health, and the proposed expansion of the District to encompass the East Valley,” said Zendle, adding, “Expanding access for all of our residents under our One Coachella Valley approach is essential.” (COMPLETE NEWS RELEASE)