With the approval of Measure BB on Nov. 6, the Desert Healthcare District will more than double the size of the community it covers and create two additional board seats.
Voters overwhelmingly approved Measure BB to expand the District’s boundaries to cover the entire valley, including La Quinta, Indio, Coachella, the remainder of Palm Desert and Indian Wells, and unincorporated communities such as Bermuda Dunes, Thermal, Mecca, Oasis and North Shore.
Some 77.98 percent of the voters, or 20,408 approved the expansion while 22.02 percent, or 5,763 voters did not, according to unofficial results from the Riverside County Registrar of Voters.
Since its inception in 1948, the District had included only the valley cities and unincorporated areas west of Cook Street. Reflective of One Coachella Valley, residents in the mid- and eastern valley can now gain access to programs and services that the District funds and supports.
“By passing Measure BB, voters help to ensure that all Coachella Valley residents have access to health and wellness services and programs that the District supports. It’s a huge step toward ending the disparity that exists between the east and west valley,” Dr. Les Zendle, president of the Desert Healthcare District/Foundation Board, said in a prepared statement. “The District Board and staff look forward to working with various community partners, leaders and residents east of Cook Street, while continuing to serve the west valley as it has for the past 70 years.”
Tuesday’s vote brings an additional 240,000 people into the District, whose mission is “to achieve optimal health at all stages of life for all District residents.”
As a result of the healthcare district expansion, the board is expected to appoint two new directors from the annexed area in January, increasing the board from five to seven members.
Expansion also requires redrawing the District zones to incorporate two new zones. The process of transitioning from five to seven zones is expected to get underway in 2019.
Measure BB to expand the healthcare district was authored by Democratic Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, and supported by Democratic U.S. Congressman Raul Ruiz and state Senators, other Assemblymembers and local elected leaders.