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D.A.P. Deemed FQHC

Clinic serves more than those living with HIV

Despite the name it’s had since being incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1984, Desert AIDS Project in Palm Springs expanded its service purview beyond HIV care when it became a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) “Look-Alike” in April 2012. But that doesn’t mean D.A.P. is any less concerned with HIV/AIDS than it has been before.

“We knew that changes in the Ryan White Care Act and eventual implementation of the Affordable Care Act were going to make it essential for us to seek additional funding sources, so that we could expand our primary care services,” said David Brinkman, CEO of D.A.P.  “Given the documented physician shortage in our Valley, we wanted to be better positioned as a primary care alternative for the uninsured or underinsured of our community, whether living with HIV or not.” D.A.P. knew it needed to do more for the general population … while still remaining the local “go-to” health care provider for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Being a Look-Alike required the same standards of care and scope of service as being granted full status; however, FQHC full status made D.A.P. eligible for grant funds, along with the Look-Alike’s more equitable reimbursement rate for Medicare/Medi-Cal. Both funding sources allowed for increased staff to provide services – medical, dental, and behavioral health services, as well as case management, eligibility assistance, and health education and outreach – to an expanded base of patients and clients.

The need for services was already great, based on 2010 Census figures, for those living at or below 200% of Federal Poverty Level and uninsured. But 2014 Census figures showed even greater need. By the time D.A.P. was granted full “330 Grantee” status as an FQHC by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) in August 2015, an estimated 24,545 within D.A.P.’s target population, as defined by HHS, were in need of services.

Between Look-Alike and full status, D.A.P. established a coalition of community partners, launching Get Tested Coachella Valley as the nation’s first-ever, region-wide HIV testing initiative. The campaign was recognized by the Clinton Health Matters Initiative in early 2014.  Near the end of 2015, Brinkman presented the program on the grounds of The White House to highlight Get Tested’s success in helping our region get closer to the “90/90/90” targets outlined in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the U.S. (Updated to 2020):

90% of people living with HIV knowing their status, with

90% of those who know their HIV status being on treatment, and

90% of people on HIV treatment having suppressed viral load.

“These are exciting times for Desert AIDS Project,” Brinkman concluded. “While we fervently hope that someday people will come to us to be cured of their HIV, rather than for its care, we plan to be here for as long as necessary to provide primary care while helping put an end to HIV/AIDS, once and for all.”

For more information visit www.DesertAIDSProject.org or call (760) 323.2118.

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