The Desert Healthcare District and Foundation unveiled a brand new, 26-foot mobile medical clinic.
The $336,500 mobile clinic was purchased earlier this year with $175,000 in grant support from Coachella Valley Resource Conservation District. Adding up construction and operation costs, it's about a million-dollar investment.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday on the Desert Regional Medical Center campus in Palm Springs. Officials offered tours of the clinic.
Officials said this will help the organizations deliver healthcare and related services directly to underserved Coachella Valley communities in need.
Dr. Gemma Kim with Desert Physicians Medical Group has envisioned a mobile unit since they started their Street Medicine Program more than ten years ago.
"It's almost too good to be true," said Kim. "It can really help to spread our access and provide access to those communities who really need us."
She said locals in need, like migrant farmworkers, refugees, senior citizens, and the homeless will be able to access the free healthcare clinic.
It has two patient exam rooms, a waiting area, air conditioning, and the ability to do telemedicine. The clinic will also provide vaccinations, prescriptions, and mental health services.
Desert Healthcare District and Foundation CEO Conrado Barzaga said he listened to east valley residents who requested a mobile clinic.
"We're working on plans to develop that healthcare infrastructure-- bringing more services to the east valley," said Barzaga. "Everyone who needs access to healthcare services and they don't have access is going to receive it."
Medical students from the Sal State San Bernardino Palm Desert campus will help run the clinic.
"Ever since we're like little, we're all taught to like, you know, when we see a stranger to keep walking, and now it's gonna give us the opportunity to communicate with this vulnerable population," said senior nursing student Jessica Rodriguez.
Clinic organizers say they hope to help students understand and connect with the community they're serving to build a lasting impact.
"We're trying to also create healthcare leaders in our community, who will take that initiative to address all the social determinants of health that we need," said Kim.
A schedule of dates, times, and locations for the mobile clinic is being planned and will be posted on dhcd.org and social media sites by the end of the year.
"We are so excited to work with the Desert Healthcare District to bring our vision of bridging health and community into reality so that we can continue to provide the highest quality and personalized care to the underserved populations in the valley that is patient-, family-, and community-centered," said Dr. Tae Kim of DPMG Health.
Coachella Valley Resource Conservation District Vice-President Blaine Carian and George Tudor, founding president of Growing Coachella Valley, said they both appreciate that the mobile clinic will provide access to health services previously unavailable to the farmworker population in the eastern valley.
The need for a mobile unit was highlighted during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Carian said.
"When agricultural workers were deemed essential, the ag community set up sites for vaccinations. This was effective but difficult. Everyone involved was looking for an easier process," Carian said.