Desert Healthcare District offices

Desert Healthcare District offices on the Desert Regional Medical Center campus.

Desert Health[sup]®[/sup] promotes those local organizations and practices which set the Coachella Valley apart as leaders in the field of health care and integrated medicine. One such organization is the Valley’s Desert Healthcare District.

Created in 1948, the Desert Healthcare District’s original mission was to provide hospital services to residents of the region. In 1998, a grant program was added which has provided over $40 million to non-profit organizations for health-related programs to improve the lives of District residents.

In September, the Directors of the Desert Healthcare District approved $5,885,000 in grants to help fund programs offered by three Valley organizations including the UCR School of Medicine, Desert Cancer Foundation, and Family Services of the Desert.

The District awarded a $5 million dollar, five-year grant to UCR School of Medicine that will support the retention of physician specialists, while adding more diversity to that segment of the workforce. The funding will help provide infrastructure and administrative support for the hiring of primary care physicians at Desert Regional Medical Center (DRMC). These physicians will establish a district-wide protocol to train medical students and medical residents, and treat patients without regard to their ability to pay.

“The grant for UCR School of Medicine is one of the largest amounts that the District has ever funded for a single initiative,” says District Board member and Program Committee Chairman Sidney Rubenstein. “We are always striving to find new ways to improve the health of the community we serve, and the Board felt that this particular request was unique in terms of its scope and long term mission.”

Participating doctors will also develop clinical clerkships in partnership with DRMC, Borrego Community Health Foundation, and the Riverside County Family Care Center, and help build a telemedicine infrastructure that will link students and medical residents at district locations to the education programs in Riverside and beyond. These physicians will also enable telemedicine consults for qualifying patients to specialists outside the region, and prepare students in the district for careers in medicine and other health professions through expanded enrichment programs. The program will receive one million dollars per year over each of the next five years.

A two-year grant of $660,000 was approved for Desert Cancer Foundation to help fund an Integrated Healthcare Assistance Program that will aid approximately 680 district residents. The money will fund a need-based patient assistance program to support cancer-related medical costs such as outpatient services for uninsured clients, co-insurance for insured clients, MediCal monthly share of cost, prescription medications, inpatient hospital costs, and insurance premiums. Funding will also provide screening and diagnostic services at no cost to eligible low income, uninsured district residents through the Suzanne Jackson Breast Cancer Fund. Additionally, the grant will help underwrite case manager salaries.

The District also awarded $225,000 to Family Services of the Desert as a gap fund for mental health services in Desert Hot Springs. Typically, participants in these programs have been touched by domestic violence, child abuse, neglect, and/or maltreatment. Family Services of the Desert is the only agency to provide domestic violence and anger management programs that are required by probation and parole programs for the residents of Desert Hot Springs. An estimated 720 district residents will benefit from this funding.

Today, with an annual operating budget of roughly $9 million, the District pursues its mission of providing grants and funding to qualified nonprofit and governmental grantees that focus on enhancing the health of district residents. Each grant is an investment of taxpayer dollars. A five member Board of Directors is elected by the residents of the communities served which includes the cities of Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert (west of Cook Street) and extends into the unincorporated areas of Thousand Palms and Mountain Center.

For more information on the Desert Healthcare District visit or call 760-323-6113

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