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Clinton calls for ‘grass roots’ approach to health care

Former President Bill Clinton kicked off the fourth annual Clinton Foundation Health Matters Activation Summit in Palm Springs with a special breakfast.

The Summit is hosted by Desert Regional Medical Center and JFK Memorial Hospital and is being sponsored by Tenet Healthcare.

“We go around the country and we talk about you,” Clinton said to the gathering of local health care leaders in the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center.

“I wanted to do this project in the Valley, because we have the (Humana) golf tournament here, that’s how it started, but the more I studied it I realized this is one of the most diverse communities in America,” says Clinton. “If you can prove that you can make a grass roots, community driven, constantly reforming system committed to wellness, not fixing sickness, but wellness, everyone in America will take notice,” says Clinton.

“I want to encourage you, because we are seeing in these other communities, that we are working their local version of what you’re doing, but you are way ahead of them,” says Clinton.

Along with the speech by Bill Clinton, other presenters highlighted initiatives being done to improve health in the community.

Get Tested Coachella Valley, an public health campaign designed to dramatically reduce HIV and improve access to care for those who test positive, is seeing some gains.

Over the past three years Desert Regional Medical Center given $1.5 million in sponsorship to Get Tested as part of its commitment to the Clinton Health Matters Initiative Blueprint for Action in the Coachella Valley.

“Since this very breakfast last year we have doubled the number of HIV test sites in this valley by 52 percent, says David Brinkman, CEO of the Desert AIDS Project. “There are now 41 locations to get an HIV test in this Valley,” says Brinkman.

Presenters also talked about the partnership between UC Riverside School of Medicine, the Desert Healthcare District and Desert Regional Medical Center. They are providing needed primary care to residents of the Coachella Valley and will train the next generation of physicians.

“Studies have proven that residents will either return back to where they came from or grew up from or they will continue to stay in the area they were trained at, so by placing these training facilities out here at Desert Regional Medical Center we hope to capture those residents and retain them so they continue to practice in the area and address the physical shortage that we have here,” says Dr. Gemma Kim, the program director of the UCR School of Medicine family medicine residency training program.

The Coachella Valley, which is home to the Clinton Health Matters Activation Summit, was among the first communities to participate in the Clinton Health Matters Initiative.

Sunday, Jan. 25, there will be a free health fare open to the public at James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center beginning at 1 p.m.

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KESQ News Team

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