Published 3:45 p.m. PT March 19, 2020
Nearly three weeks after the first coronavirus patient was confirmed in the Coachella Valley, the Desert Healthcare District hosted a 10-minute conference to address how it plans to be part of ongoing efforts to provide resources to the community.
Conrado Barzaga, district CEO, said on Thursday that while the Riverside County currently provides all tests, the district hopes to provide them as well to expand regional capacity as the pandemic spreads.
The district is also preparing to issue emergency funds for supplies. Officials plan to announce on Tuesday $1 million to $2.5 million in funds for testing and treatment — a majority of the district’s annual budget.
“It takes time to assess what are the real needs, because our funding is limited,” Barzaga said. “We will have funding available for community clinics. … We want to make sure there are the financial means to expand testing throughout the Coachella Valley, so that we’ll have best insights in Desert Hot Springs, Coachella and Mecca and everywhere else.”
Barzaga said the district was moving as quickly as possible to assess needs and make funding available, but wanted to be “prudent” about how it used its limited resources.
“There’s a concentration of health care resources in the west valley. Resources are more concentrated in the bigger cities in the more developed areas of our Coachella Valley,” Barzaga said. “But when you look at the rural areas — Coachella, Mecca, North Shore, Oasis — those are areas where you can find very little resources. So we want to make sure that we’re building an infrastructure that will be responsive to the needs of that community and that will make access to health care possible for those communities.”