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Advancing Community wellness in the Coachella Valley

CEO's Letter: Board allocates $1.2 million in pandemic aid

Conrado Barzaga, MD, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation CEO

Dear Coachella Valley residents,

For more than 70 years, the Desert Healthcare District’s priority has been to improve access to health and wellness programs, services and facilities for District residents. That remains an integral part of our mission today, especially during these unprecedented times when our community and the entire world are grappling with the daily impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address the rapidly changing effects of this virus, and the resulting needs, our Board of Directors on Tuesday, March 24, approved allocating $1.2 million to collective efforts to provide support to many of the nonprofit service providers, healthcare professionals and other agencies working to ensure all of us in the Coachella Valley — especially seniors and those with a compromised immune system — remain safe.

On behalf of the District and Foundation Board and staff, one of our objectives is to demonstrate what you may be hearing a lot these days, and that’s we all are in this together.  We have many community partners, including Regional Access Project Foundation (RAP), Lift to Rise, United Way of the Desert, Desert Care Network, Borrego Health, Desert Oasis Healthcare, Desert Aids Project, Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, RUHS, the Office of County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, and others.

We are honored that these organizations are joining the District in its efforts. Our aim is to help ensure that their dedicated work to combat this virus reaches as many residents as possible, particularly low-income families struggling to pay for rent, food, utilities and other essentials. Together, we are advancing community wellness in the Coachella Valley.

Please find below details of the Board’s funding allocation:

  • $550,000 for a "healthcare safety net infrastructure" to prevent hospital emergency rooms from being overwhelmed by people seeking care to ensure federally qualified health centers are responsive to patients' needs. (Additionally, the RAP Foundation would provide a $50,000 match for a total of $600,000)
  • $401,380 for FIND Food Bank, the valley's regional food bank, which has established seven rapid-response mobile units and plans to operate six more mobile units across the valley.
  • $100,000 for an economic protection plan, with an additional $50,000 each from the RAP Foundation and $50,000 from Lift to Rise, $25,000 from United Way and $15,000 from Inland Empire Community Foundation. The collective contributions will be used as seed money to leverage additional dollars from private donors and foundations; the economic protection plan will help low-income families affected by COVID-19. Recipients would receive a one-time allocation of $200 per household to help with rent, utilities, food and other essentials. County agencies will also contribute with a variety of assistance services. Lift to Rise will administer the program.
  • $100,000 in support of human service providers. Additionally, the RAP Foundation would provide a $100,000 match for a total of $200,000. This funding allocation will provide grants up to $10,000 for basic needs, such as clothing, food, water and other items for least 20 organizations. This fund will contribute to the health and wellbeing of vulnerable members of our community, including seniors, medically compromised people, and communities with limited access to essential services.
  • $50,000 for an educational campaign to counter misinformation and raise awareness among the public about COVID-19 prevention and care.
  • $75,000 to support organizations serving the homeless and migrant worker communities. Three organizations were selected to be eligible for $25,000 each. These are:  Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, Martha's Village and Kitchen, and Galilee Center. The fund will provide core operation support, such as staffing, food, clothing and other supplies needed in housing the homeless and migrant workers.

If you are in the position and would like to help, there are opportunities to donate to the efforts listed above and to volunteer your time and talent. Please bookmark our website,, for forthcoming details over the next several days and weeks.

Stay safe and be well.

Conrado Bárzaga, MD

Desert Healthcare District and Foundation CEO

Correction: The fourth item under funding allocation was corrected as $100,000, bringing the total allocation to $1,2 million. (Friday, March 27, 2020)