2023 DAP Health Community Impact Report

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affordable housing dentistry

ending epidemics

equitable access

family medicine

food assistance

gender-affirming care

harm reduction

health equity

HIV prevention, testing, treatment

DAP Health

infectious diseases

mental health


pharmacy services

racial equity


primary care

recovery services

sexual wellness

social services

urgent care

women’s health

health care is


Dear DAP Health community:

It is with immense pride and gratitude that I address you as the CEO of DAP Health, and I am delighted to extend a warm welcome to each of you as we embark on a journey through the pages of our 2023 Community Impact Report.

Throughout our rich history, DAP Health has been steadfastly guided by members of the communities we serve, fostering a sense of unity and shared responsibility. Our mission has been, and continues to be, dedicated to protecting and expanding health care access, particularly for those most in need throughout Southern California.

The year 2023 marked a momentous chapter in our journey, as DAP Health proudly welcomed the Borrego Health system into our family. This strategic acquisition brought with it 500 dedicated employees, 25 fixed locations, seven mobile units, and a responsibility to care for an additional 70,000 patients. This expansion enables us to further amplify our impact and extend our reach, allowing us to touch even more lives with the quality care that defines DAP Health.

As we delve into the contents of this Community Impact Report, which incorporates data from both sides of the integrated organization, you will discover the core of our commitment: addressing the social drivers of health that significantly impact our diverse patient populations. We are actively implementing initiatives designed to enhance health outcomes and improve the overall well-being of those we serve. These steps underscore our unwavering dedication to holistic health care that extends beyond medical treatment.

One of the cornerstones of our commitment to transparency is sharing the details of our operation’s finances. I am pleased to announce that we have made available a comprehensive overview of our fiscal performance over the past five years on our website at daphealth.org. We believe in the power of openness to build trust and accountability, and it is our hope that you will explore and appreciate the depth of our financial stewardship.

In closing, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to each member of the DAP Health community — our board of directors, employees, volunteers, donors, community partners, elected officials, and most importantly, our patients. Your support and trust empower us to drive positive change and create a healthier, more resilient future for all.

Thank you all for being an integral part of DAP Health. We literally could not do the lifesaving work we do without you.

In gratitude and partnership,

Together for Better Health


— From 2023’s Issue 4 of DAP Health magazine

On August 1, 2023, DAP Health and Borrego Health became one in a union sanctioned by both the Bankruptcy Court and the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). Since then, the integrated health care system has operated with some 850 employees serving more than 85,000 patients of all ages, genders, ethnicities, orientations, and socioeconomic status at 26 fixed locations and eight mobile units across 240 urban and rural zip codes in Riverside and

Prior to the two federally

under DAP Health’s vast

DAP Health now boasts 850 employees serving more than 85,000 patients of all ages, genders, ethnicities, orientations, and socioeconomic status at 26 fixed locations and eight mobile units across 240 urban and rural zip codes in Riverside and San Diego counties.

“It’s an honor to unite Borrego Health and DAP Health’s missions, as well as our region’s most exceptional, dedicated, and passionate health care professionals,” says DAP Health CEO David Brinkman. “Together, we will build a brighter future where every individual — regardless of who or where they are — has equal opportunity to live a

CEO David Brinkman photographed by Michael Davis.

“We will achieve this by replicating our time-tested, holistic, patientcentered care model, which addresses all applicable social drivers of health (SDOH) negatively affecting the patient population at ea of our clinics. By addressing these SDOH — whether they pertain to language and literacy, housing, nutrition, transportation, education, employment and income, addiction, violence, and/or racism and other discrimination — we remove barriers to care, increase our patients’ quality and length of life, and create true health equity.”

“When all of us at Borrego Health were looking for a like-minded FQHC to take us under its wing, three things mattered most,” says DAP Health Chief Operating Officer Corina Velasquez, who served in the same capacity at Borrego Health. “Continued access to health care for our more than 70,000 patients. Continued employment for our more than 500 employees. And mission match — an organization that would share our values and our vision for continually creating more health equity in this region. In DAP Health, we hit the proverbial trifecta … and then some!”

Of note:

• Every DAP Health and Borrego Health location will remain open, retaining its original name, branding, and signage for the time being.

• Some 99% of Borrego Health employees accepted DAP Health’s invitation to join the combined entity.

• Fellow FQHCs Innercare and Neighborhood Healthcare — allies of DAP Health who have regional and cultural expertise in Riverside and San Diego Counties, respectively — will offer guidance, support, and community connections on an as-needed basis.

• DAP Health’s mission — including its commitment to LGBTQ+ health care, HIV care, gender-affirming care, and the Coachella Valley community — will expand as a result of its absorption of Borrego Health.

Over the next 12 months, DAP Health’s fortified executive leadership team — consisting of individuals from both organizations — will analyze all social drivers of health (those nonmedical factors that negatively impact patients’ health outcomes) at all the clinics served. It will actively engage fellow community organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, and businesses to improve health outcomes for all, whether that be by adding programs and services or improving physical facilities. By combining a plethora of strengths, DAP Health will achieve new levels of excellence in delivering comprehensive, accessible, and culturally sensitive care to its diverse patient populations.

Chief Operating Officer Corina Velasquez photographed by Zach Ivey.

A Tale of Two Cultures


At DAP Health’s Sunrise campus in Palm Springs, one client is receiving HIV specialty care and a connection to social services, including food and housing, as another receives gender-affirming care.

At Borrego Health’s Coachella Valley Community Health Center in Coachella, physicians are providing obstetrics, pediatric, and dental care for a migrant family, plus specialized care for a veteran’s family.

These stories reflect just a few of the comprehensive services provided by DAP Health, serving the Coachella Valley since 1984, and Borrego Health, serving Riverside and San Diego counties since the 1980s.

Now, the two organizations have become one, offering compassionate health care with dignity and respect across Southern California. Looking to the future, leaders of both organizations are committed to nurturing a true partnership.

Corina Velasquez has a unique understanding of the mission and culture of Borrego Health. Sixteen years ago, she joined the organization as a medical assistant. In 2021, she became its chief operating officer, a role she now fills at DAP Health. “I think the culture is in the need to deliver care to the underserved, making sure that you’re here for your neighbors, your friends, your family,” she says. “Because that’s who they are to our employees.

“This organization has been through a lot over the past couple of years, much like many other organizations in terms of COVID-19 and how that’s changed things. But with Borrego, it goes a step further with all the things we’ve had to deal with.”

Velasquez credits the staff for their dedication. “So many of them could have left. But when you look at the staff that are still here — and you ask about their tenure — it’s anywhere from five, 10, 15 years and climbing.”

To answer questions and ease concerns, Velasquez, Borrego Health Vice President of Clinic Operations Nereida “Nedy” Terrazas, and DAP Health CEO David Brinkman took part in an extensive listening tour prior to the official start of the two organizations joining forces. “We went to every single one of our brick-and-mortar clinics over the course of about five to six weeks,” Velasquez reveals. The goal was not only for Velasquez, Terrazas, and Brinkman to answer tough questions, but for the latter to start to get to know Borrego Health employees, and vice versa.

“It was very important to me to travel near and far, accompanied by Corina and Nedy, to visit the many people with whom we would soon be working so closely, in their own workplaces,” says Brinkman. “What was most moving to me was not only to see how long most have been in health care, but to witness firsthand the love and passion they have for the work; the dedication they have to the patients they feel

it’s their duty and honor to serve. All of that was immediately apparent from our very first conversations.”

Velasquez believes DAP Health is a perfect partner in terms of patient care. “It is such an alignment of DAP Health’s ability to do the wraparound services — all of the things that are not direct patient care, from housing to food insecurity — and marrying that with Borrego’s ability to deliver complex care, from women’s health to pediatrics, adults, and specialty. I’m really excited for the future and what’s to come.”

Deanna Drake — who earned a master’s in public health from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities — is a senior manager at Facktor Health, a nationally recognized consulting firm with expertise in development, innovation, and integration for federally qualified health center (FQHC) health plans and hospitals. The company has been supporting DAP Health and Borrego Health throughout this integration, and will continue for the foreseeable future.

Drake notes that both organizations were established to meet an unmet need for a population that didn’t have access to care. “I think what’s really similar is how they started — their motivations for caring for people,” she says. “And what’s changed, over time, is who those populations are.

“Many people choose to continue working at these two organizations for the exact same reason. They’re passionate about caring for their patients. And those are patients who are typically quite underserved, vulnerable, and subjected to marginalization or discrimination.”

What does that mean to those who turn to the new, blended organization for care and support? “Say you’re a busy mom and you’ve got three kids,” Drake suggests. “You want to know: When I call to make an appointment for my child, is it the same phone number? Can I use my same insurance? Will my doctor or my nurse practitioner be there?

“They want that stability — that reassurance that the care they’ve been receiving will continue and it’s as accessible as it always has been. They want to hear, ‘I’ll be here for you.

Yes, it’s the same phone number. Yes, you can use your same insurance.’ It’s really important to get that information to those patients directly through their providers.”

What could the health care partnership look like within the two years? Drake has a powerful and inspiring vision. “It’s an organization filled with very talented leaders — and very mission-driven staff — who have learned from each other to create a system that is truly exemplary,” she said.

Looking to the future, Drake says, “In terms of the quality of the care they’re providing, the quality of their facilities, the excellence in their approach to social determinants of health, they’ve taken the best of both entities and blended that into a strong, unified vision and a mission-driven organization.”

September 12, 2022

Borrego Health files for bankruptcy and solicits potential acquisitors to assimilate its assets, and to serve its more than 70,000 patients (which include people of all genders, as well as children — individuals as diverse as migrant farmworkers in rural areas to refugees and recent immigrants in urban settings).

February 5, 2023

DAP Health makes public the fact that — having retained Facktor Health (a firm with expertise in FQHC acquisitions) and having formed an alliance with fellow regional FQHCs Neighborhood Healthcare and Innercare — it has made a bid to absorb Borrego Health in order to advance DAP Health’s nearly 40-year-old mission of protecting and expanding health care access, especially for marginalized populations.

February 15, 2023

The Borrego Health board of trustees selects DAP Health to absorb the Borrego Health system based on a process conducted through Borrego Health’s Bankruptcy Court proceedings. The final sale is still subject to the approval of both the Bankruptcy Court and the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA).

March 1, 2023

The Bankruptcy Court approves DAP Health’s bid to acquire all assets of Borrego Health, launching a regulatory transition process involving the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and HRSA.

Working with the consultants at Facktor — and having created various committees devoted to human resources, communications, IT, operations, etc. — DAP Health works through not only its DHCS and HRSA requirements, but the logistics involved in hiring Borrego Health’s 500 employees, all of whom are offered positions at DAP Health.

DAP Health and Borrego Health leaders — in addition to that at Innercare and Neighborhood Healthcare, plus Facktor consultants — focus on implementing a well-thought-out plan that will lead to the smoothest transition for all involved.

July 31, 2023

HRSA officially approves the absorption of all Borrego Health assets by DAP Health.

August 1, 2023

DAP Health and Borrego Health begin operating as one integrated health system.


Does DAP Health own Borrego Health?

Yes. DAP Health purchased Borrego Health and is responsible for managing all Borrego Health employees and for operating all Borrego Health clinics.

Why did DAP Health choose to acquire Borrego Health?

DAP Health chose to acquire Borrego Health to protect and expand care for Borrego Health patients, and to increase its footprint so it can bring its awardwinning, holistic, patient-centric model of care to more communities throughout Southern California.

Is the name of any DAP Health and/or Borrego Health clinic/center changing?

No. Until August 2024, each clinic/center will retain its original name, branding, and signage.

How will this acquisition affect patient care?

Programs and services for all DAP Health and Borrego Health patients will remain the same everywhere, and in many cases will be improved as DAP Health adds more providers and support staff. There will be no interruption in care, which patients can access as they normally have.

Will patient care teams remain the same, and will patients retain their same provider/doctor?

Yes. All providers and care teams are now employees of DAP Health. However, most will continue to serve at the clinics where they have been working and caring for patients.

Will all Borrego Health and DAP Health clinics/ centers have access to all patients’ medical records?

Yes. Once you are registered as a patient at the clinic, you can authorize staff to request your records.

Can a patient transfer their care between Borrego Health and DAP Health?

Now that DAP Health and Borrego Health are one system, any patient who wishes to visit another clinic location should call to speak to a representative about registering at that clinic as a patient.

Will there be changes in insurance requirements?

No. All insurance requirements remain the same. Do existing Borrego Health patients need to change the facility name on their insurance card if they want to be seen at DAP Health?

No. Existing patients can continue to use their current insurance cards. Only new enrollees will be issued a new card that indicates that DAP Health is their medical home.


DAP Health

Community Impact

DAP Health is an internationally renowned humanitarian health care organization and federally qualified health center (FQHC) whose goal is to protect and expand health care access for all people — especially the disenfranchised — regardless of who or where they are, their health status, or whether they have health insurance.

In 2023, the nonprofit made a successful bid to absorb the Borrego Health system, enabling its combined 850 employees to serve more than 85,000 patients of all populations, genders, and ages — from newborns to seniors — at 26 fixed locations and eight mobile units across 240 urban and rural zip codes in Riverside and San Diego counties.

For years, DAP Health’s programs and services have included primary care, infectious diseases, genderaffirming care, LGBTQ+ care, mental health, dentistry, harm reduction, recovery services, affordable housing, social services, and HIV prevention, testing, and treatment. The additional disciplines now under its vast umbrella include family medicine, radiology, women’s health (including OB-GYN), pediatrics, urgent care, and pharmacy services.

13,138 hepatitis C tests

15,002 Dental visits

11,726 OB-GYN visits

5,965 hepatitis B tests

85,000 Patients

2,023 Genderaffirming visits

1,369 COVID vaccines

34,249 Pediatric visits

167,718 Medical clinic visits

11,369 Mental health visits

3,849 Flu vaccines

5,121 Colorectal cancer screenings

4,759 Immunizations

HIV Care

DAP Health was founded as Desert AIDS Project in 1984 by a group of community volunteers. For 40 years, the nonprofit has provided care for those affected by the HIV epidemic. Today, HIV disease is a manageable, chronic condition, and one of the cornerstones of DAP Health’s work is the continuing care for those who are either aging with the virus, or newly diagnosed.

In 2023:

5,452 patients receiving HIV specialty care

20,508 HIV tests were conducted

679 free self-HIV tests were distributed

95% of those newly diagnosed were immediately linked to care

441 Rapid StART visits took place

268 HIV patients began Rapid StART right away

Sexual Wellness and HIV Prevention

HIV prevention and free testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is a fact of daily life at DAP Health’s three sexual wellness clinics, in Palm Springs (at the Sunrise campus’ Orange Clinic), in Cathedral City (at Stonewall Medical Center), and in the standalone facility in Indio.

In 2023:

3,785 patients were treated for an STI


local HIV-negative patients started PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for the prevention of HIV

Another 4,017 individuals throughout California were provided mail-order PrEP thanks to DAP Health’s partnership with Mistr, a gay-owned-and-operated online provider that brings the best doctors, pharmacists, and problem-solvers together to make PrEP available to all who need it.


patients switched from daily oral PrEP to bimonthly injectable PrEP (trade name Apretude)


patients were treated with PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) for the prevention of HIV

Also available are the following:

• Pregnancy testing

• Birth control

• Referrals to abortion services

• The JYNNEOS vaccine to prevent mpox

DAP Health’s Legacy of LGBTQ+ Care

If there’s one health care organization that’s an expert in the queer community, it’s DAP Health, whose grassroots heritage dates back to 1984.

Since its founding, the nonprofit has been dedicated to transforming the lives of LGBTQ+ communities through comprehensive care, without any judgment and regardless of ability to pay.

The comprehensive, compassionate, culturally competent care DAP Health provides to members of the LGBTQ+ community throughout Southern California includes:

• Primary preventive care

• Dental care

• Urgent care

• Free HIV and STI testing, education, and early intervention services

• HIV and hepatitis specialty care

• Individual and group mental health services

• Individual and group substance abuse counseling

• Onsite laboratory diagnostic services

• Onsite pharmacy services

• Home health care

• Housing, food, utility, and transportation assistance for qualified clients

• Chiropractic, nutrition counseling, and other wellness support

• Insurance enrollment support

• Case management (assessments, referrals, advocacy, and benefits counseling)

For nearly all of its health care needs, the LGBTQ+ community need look no further than DAP Health, from the Coachella Valley to the San Diego coast.

7,247 LGBTQ patients

Gender Health and Wellness

Under Director of Specialty Programs Dr. Jason Halperin, DAP Health strives to one day be the standard-bearer for gender health and wellness services throughout Southern California.

At its Stonewall Medical Center, the staff members devoted to the practice include a director, manager, and navigator, all of whom work in tandem to provide gender-diverse patients with linkage to gender-affirming care, and assistance with transportation, insurance, medication coverage, housing/wellness/food referrals, and other support.

At its Sunrise campus, Senior Nurse Practitioner Specialist Anthony Velasco — who after years-long training and exam-taking received World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) certification — has been seeing patients in need of gender health and wellness services since 2016.

DAP Health plans on having all its Gender Health and Wellness Services lead providers receive said WPATH certification.

In 2023:

There were

2,023 unique appointments related to gender health and wellness.

382 patients received gender health and wellness care.

231 patients received gender-affirmation surgical referrals.

Several presentations were made at professional conferences on topics related to health and health care access among transgender and gender-diverse people.

The article “Conceptualizing Transgender and Gender-Diverse Older Adults as a Vulnerable Population: A Systematic Review,” by Velasco et al., was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal “Geriatric Nursing.”

10% Physical Environment 40% Socioeconomic Factors Education Job Status Family Social Support Income Community Safety 30% Health Behaviors Tobacco Use Diet & Exercise Alcohol Use Drug Use Sexual Activity 20% Health Care Access to Care Quality of Care 50% can be traced back to your zip code! Only 20% include those moments in a health care environment 20% of a person’s health and well-being is related to access to care and quality of services The physical environment, social determinants and behavioral factors drive 80% of health outcomes Source: Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement; Going Beyond Clinical Walls: Solving Complex Problems, 2014 Source: American Hospital Association — Addressing Social Determinants of Health, 2018

514 bags of non-perishable staples were distributed

Social Services

It has become common knowledge that an individual’s poor health outcomes are directly related to the adverse effects of social drivers of health (SDOH), which the World Health Organization describes as “the non-medical factors [and] conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.”

DAP Health has the physical and intellectual resources, the drive, and — most importantly — the vision to effect even greater change by positively impacting its diverse patient populations’ SDOH. For 40 years, the nonprofit has been known and celebrated for its unique, whole-person, patient-centric model of care, which includes paying close attention to wraparound social services such as housing, food, and transportation assistance, not to mention non-traditional and/or alternative therapies, such as massage, yoga, meditation, etc.

In 2023:

DAP Health’s Social Services department assisted 1,556 unique clients, and served 582 unique housing clients


Ryan White HIV/AIDS Programeligible clients accessed food vouchers

141 on-campus affordable housing units: 80 at Vista Sunrise I 61 at Vista Sunrise II

40 clients participated in various monthly support groups, on average

111 high-acuity, unique Permanent Local Housing Allocation Program clients received home and community health services


Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program-eligible clients accessed transportation assistance through gas vouchers, complimentary ride sharing services, and/or public transport passes

6 clients benefited from monthly return-to-work services, on average

Housing is Health Care

DAP Health has long believed that housing is a social driver of health, that without a roof over their head, no patient can live their best, healthiest life. That’s why, in 2007, we established affordable housing complex Vista Sunrise I on our Sunrise campus in Palm Springs, which provided 80 units for people living with HIV.

Throughout 2023, construction continued on Vista Sunrise II, which in the second quarter of 2024 will be unveiled, adding 61 units of affordable on-campus housing destined for individuals who are unhoused and/or living with chronic illness.

Thanks to these complexes, transportation challenges — another major social driver of health — will be eliminated, with residents being able to walk to DAP Health’s Sunrise campus to access both medical care and wraparound social services.

A total of

1,604 vaccines were administered

Mobile Medical & School-Based Services

DAP Health is renowned for touching the lives of hard-to-reach patients — whether that be due to remote physical location or language barriers — where they are. The nonprofit does this through the use of various mobile medical units, onsite education, and/or telehealth.

In 2023:

332 patients were connected to one of DAP Health’s fixed clinics

1,167 total visits were made to a mobile clinic

942 patients were seen, 736 of whom were new to DAP Health

113 mobile clinic events were held

744 patients (119 adults, 244 children, 381 teens) were vaccinated

226 educational lectures were presented



Tom (not his real name) is a tall, thin, handsomely weathered 67-year-old Maui native raised in Long Beach. He’s been HIVpositive for 17 years, unhoused in Palm Springs for 12, and a moderate crystal meth user for 10.

He discovered DAP Health’s Harm Reduction Program about a year ago, thanks to his daily attendance at Well in the Desert’s hot meal service. DAP Health’s team — Community Health Harm Reduction Supervisor Neil Gussardo, Educator Bree Clark-Pharr, and longtime volunteer Suzanne Petersen — shows up twice a week at this location. Tom recalls that, without any reservation, he jumped at the chance to benefit from their provision of clean bubble bowls, which are the part of glass pipes where methamphetamine is heated.

sales by the FDA, and likely available by late summer). Persons who overdose cannot typically self-administer such aids, so the products are provided to fellow users who can come to the rescue should need be. Proper training for administering overdose therapy is provided as well.

We’re helping alleviate a drain on the system, person by person.

“They’re completely compassionate,” Tom says of Gussardo, Clark-Pharr, and Petersen. “They’re sensitive to your needs. They want you to have the safest equipment for your drug use. They’re very supportive without ever pushing recovery on you.” In fact, he recommends the program to all his unhoused friends who use drugs.

Gussardo is no newcomer to serving people experiencing substance use disorder. He has worked in the field for more than 20 years, beginning his career in San Francisco, then transitioning to the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage. He has been with DAP Health since February 2022, and explains that the Harm Reduction Program has two priorities. The first is to provide equipment that will reduce the transmission of HIV, hepatitis C, and other illnesses.

Specifically, the program provides fresh syringes, gift cards as an incentive for those who bring in used syringes, alcohol swabs and cotton filters for injections, test strips to determine if a more dangerous synthetic opioid like fentanyl is mixed in with other drugs, cookers to help convert drugs in solid form to liquid, and clean pipes, glass bubble bowls, pipe extensions, and foil used in smoking opiates.

The second priority, Gussardo says, is to distribute opioid overdose treatments proven effective, such as injectable naloxone and the nasal spray Narcan (recently approved for over-the-counter

The reaction to this program has been positive. But occasional negative comments are not uncommon from passersby who learn what services Gussardo and his colleagues supply. “We absolutely encounter folks who think we’re enabling drug use rather than reducing the risk of harm,” he says, adding that by diminishing disease transmission, the program is saving society a considerable amount of money and time spent treating people infected with HIV or hep C. “We’re helping alleviate a drain on the system, person by person.”

More importantly, according to Gussardo, “It’s been reported to us from our participants that they’ve used either naloxone or Narcan provided by DAP Health to reverse 104 overdoses from September through January. That’s 104 lives saved.”

The Harm Reduction Program took root in the middle of 2022, at a time when overdoses from fentanyl had become an epidemic throughout the country. The drug is a legally prescribed painkiller, but in the last 10 years it has become a widely used street drug that’s up to 50 times stronger than heroine and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s often added to other drugs because of its extreme potency which, according to the CDC, makes substances cheaper, more powerful, more addictive, and much more dangerous. The number of overdose deaths involving fentanyl, the CDC reports, shot up from 1,615 in 2012 to more than 71,000 in 2021.

According to the California Department of Public Health, there were 408 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in 2021 in Riverside County. Statistics on confirmed overdose deaths for 2022 are not yet available. Sheriff Chad Bianco told City News Service last October that the rate of fentanyl poisonings is soaring, and that the number of confirmed deaths “is going to increase significantly.”

The majority of participants in DAP Health’s Harm Reduction Program, Gussardo says, are unhoused. Twice a week, his team drives its van to churches on the western end of the Coachella Valley, linking arms with the aforementioned Well in the Desert, a nonprofit that provides hot meals five days a week for working poor, persons without homes, and others.

When Gussardo, Clark-Pharr, and Petersen aren’t with Well in the Desert, they look for encampments. And if people at these locations are interested, the team works with them, too.

“We’re not doing counseling,” maintains Gussardo, “but we do see people on a repeat basis. Sometimes we see the same person twice a week. And we’re building a rapport with them, building trust, and providing referrals for additional services.”

Gussardo reveals the Harm Reduction Program has started reaching out to another group he refers to as “the party and play crowd” — gay men who, in sexual situations, occasionally use crystal meth, and who “potentially share syringes” — by establishing a Thursday evening presence on Palm Springs’ Arenas Road, where a number of gay bars are located. While still in its infancy, that initiative is slowly but surely building a clientele.

Next steps, Gussardo says, will include strategically based vending machines allowing for 24-hour access to complimentary safer-use materials such as Narcan and clean paraphernalia.

One theme Gussardo stresses in terms of harm reduction generally is how much of the population stigmatizes those who use drugs. Based on his experience in talking with those who use, he says that when these people reach out for help, they’re often met “with all the stigma of addiction. They’re met with people who don’t treat them as human beings, which then becomes a barrier to any kind of treatment.”

Part of the solution, Gussardo maintains, would be to reference “a person who uses drugs” as simply that, or as a person with a substance use disorder — rather than as a drug addict. This is part of a “people first” use of language to reduce the impact of stigma that Gussardo and other Harm Reduction team members emphasize.

Does this approach really work? According to Tom, it definitely does.

Anyone interested in receiving clean supplies is encouraged to visit DAP Health’s Harm Reduction team in the field. Call 760.323.2118, Extension 504, to inquire about schedules and locations.

Reduction Supervisor Neil Gussardo, Harm Reduction Educator Bree Clark-Pharr, and longtime volunteer Suzanne Petersen Photo by Donato Di Natale

DAP Health Unveils Coachella Valley’s First Free Harm Reduction Vending Machine

In September, DAP Health unveiled an innovative vending machine that dispenses free harm reduction materials to interested parties. Located inside Hunters Nightclub on Arenas Road in Palm Springs, it’s the first of its kind in the Coachella Valley. Similar dispensers have recently popped up in other parts of Northern and Southern California, as well as in other states. New York City debuted its first such machine in Brooklyn last June.

“The impetus behind making this vending machine available to desert residents is all about expanding access to life-saving tools,” says DAP Health Chief of Community Health C.J. Tobe. “It extends the reach of our harm reduction program team, which has worked in the field, as well as out of our Palm Springs headquarters, since 2022. It’s all about bridging gaps and building trust so that we can bring more vulnerable people into care — and into recovery if that’s something that appeals to them.”

The vending machine at Hunters — the first of more than a dozen the nonprofit eventually plans to pepper throughout the Coachella Valley, including at locations that would enable 24/7 access — offers six complimentary items: Narcan (the brand name for naloxone, the nasal spray that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose), HIV self-test kits, GHB safer-use kits, fentanyl testing kits, booty bump kits, and safer-snorting kits. Except for Narcan, all products will be displayed in unmarked, color-coded bags. Consumers will use a touchscreen panel to answer an anonymous 10-question survey about age, gender, drug of choice, method and frequency of use, etc. to gain access to the free lifesaving supplies. The information gathered will assist the harm reduction team in further efforts.

“The great thing about the data collected is that it will enable us to learn how best to allocate our resources in the future,” says Gussardo. “It’s an invaluable opportunity for the team to educate ourselves about what the most popular products are and who is using them.”

“All of us at Hunters care deeply about our clientele and the larger community,” says Hunters co-owner (with Mark Hunter) Jennifer Seymour. “When DAP Health approached us to partner with them on this groundbreaking desert initiative, we jumped at the chance. We are very proud to host the first harm reduction vending machine ever to be installed in the Coachella Valley.”

In 2023:


harm reduction clients were served (an increase of 129%)

556 lives were saved by reversing overdose with Narcan (naloxone), a 552% increase

42 Out-Patient Drug-Free (ODF) Program patients were served

There was a 668% increase in Narcan (naloxone) distribution

There was a 466% increase in clean syringe distribution

There was a 221% increase in used syringes collected

There was a 27% increase in service hours

DAP Health Was Again Award-Winning in 2023

Already award-winning, DAP Health added three worthy commendations to its collection of recognitions in 2023.

The 2023 Community Health Quality Recognition (CHQR) badge from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). DAP Health stood out as one of eight centers specifically acknowledged for its excellence in the HIV prevention and care category.

The 2023 Creativity & Innovation Award from the Inland Empire Health Plan, for DAP Health’s 2022 mpox response.

The 2023 Center for Quality Improvement & Innovation Quality Award for Leadership in Quality Improvement of DAP Health’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

In Other News

In addition to DAP Health absorbing the Borrego Health system — which was made official in August — the year 2023 was momentous for us in many other ways as well.



of DAP Health’s New Orange Clinic Officially Commemorated

On the evening of Wednesday, February 15, some 75 invitees attended the formal ribbon-cutting of DAP Health’s new Orange Clinic, which is devoted to sexual wellness and housed in the Annette Bloch CARE Building on the Sunrise campus.


DAP Health Receives One Million Dollars from California State Assemblymembers Greg Wallis and Eduardo Garcia

Monies from Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2023-2024 state budget are earmarked for the expansion of the nonprofit’s Sunrise campus in Palm Springs, and for the hiring and training of much-needed additional providers in various disciplines.



Health Opens Third Free Sexual Wellness Clinic

Joining existing clinics in Palm Springs and Indio, the latest facility — headquartered at Stonewall Medical Center in Cathedral City — will emphasize services for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, including those seeking gender-affirming navigation and care.

Women of Impact, the newest initiative for DAP Health, came together through the passion of a powerful group of community, board of directors, and staff members dedicated to setting the “gold standard” of health care for women and children in our community.

“We recognize the substantial barriers that hinder the women in the diverse communities we serve from accessing quality health care for themselves and their families. Women of Impact is dedicated not only to removing those obstacles by funding programs that address challenges, but to educating the public on how they can contribute to this crucial cause. We’re going to need the involvement of every member of our communities to bridge these gaps.”

— WOI Co-Chairs Eve E. Fromberg-Edelstein, Esq. and Karyl E. Ketchum, Ph.D

You can get more information about the WOI tours that began this fall at Centro Medico Cathedral City — by contacting Chas Kidder at CKidder@DAPHealth.org.

Financial News

More than 90% of all DAP Health revenue is spent on delivering comprehensive patient and client services.

How We Earn Our Revenue Through June 30, 2023


How We Spend Our Revenue Through June 30, 2023

DAP Health’s financial position is stable, allowing it to provide medical and support services to its clients and patients. Revenues are generated through medical fees, 340B drug discounts, grants, and donations. Through the generous work of its tireless volunteers, its four Revivals stores are able to generate a net surplus. That contribution serves to cover services that are not grant-funded, not billable to insurance, and not covered by another source. As an FQHC, DAP Health provides service to all individuals, regardless of their ability to pay.

Net Revenues Other Grants
Other Labor Related Professional Fees
Operations Marketing
Contributions Revivals
Medical/Pharmacy/ Patient Care Office/IT Expenses

Witness the Impact

Having read this 2023 Community Impact Report, are you still curious about the lifesaving programs and services DAP Health offers each and every member of the various communities it serves, from the Coachella Valley to the San Diego coast?

If so, then don’t miss an exclusive opportunity to tour the nonprofit’s cutting-edge facility.

What to expect: A guided, behind-the-scenes look at DAP Health’s state-of-the-art medical and wellness centers at its Sunrise campus in Palm Springs and Centro Medico Cathedral City. You’ll not only discover how the agency makes a lasting impact on the lives it touches by hearing firsthand accounts from patients and staff members, but you’ll network with fellow community members who share your passions.

Come be part of DAP Health’s 40-year mission to protect and expand health care access for everyone. Availability is limited, so please RSVP with Donor Relations Manager Chas Kidder at 760.656.8479 or CKidder@DAPHealth.org. To learn more about DAP Health, please visit DAPHealth.org.


Patrick Jordan, Chair

Lauri Kibby, Vice Chair

Fred Drewette, Treasurer

Mark Hamilton, Secretary


Kevin Bass

Carolyn Caldwell

Ginny Ehrlich, D. Ed, MPH, MS

Frank Figueroa, Ed.D.

Bruce W. Finch

Eve E. Fromberg-Edelstein, Esq.

Karyl E. Ketchum, Ph.D.

Athalie LaPamuk

Scott Nevins


David Brinkman, MBA, Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Joe Aquilina, Chief Medical Officer

Dana Erwin, Chief Compliance Officer

Brande Orr, MBA, Chief Strategy Officer

Sheri Saenz, Chief People & Places Officer

Judy Stith, Chief Administrative Officer

Corina Velasquez, Chief Operating Officer

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