PALM DESERT — Fourteen Coachella Valley residents will vie to fill two new seats on the newly expanded Desert Healthcare District Board of Directors at a special meeting January 15.

The special Board meeting will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15 at UCR – Palm Desert, Building B, Room B 114-117. UCR – Palm Desert is located at 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive in Palm Desert. Free parking will be available in Lot B.

The new Director positions were created as a result of District expansion that voters overwhelmingly approved last November. The Board will increase from five to seven members with the passage of Measure BB. Expansion requires the new members to come from the annexed area, which added communities east of Cook Street to create a valley-wide District.

Eligible applicants were required to submit a letter of interest to the District by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8. The next step is for the current Board to interview these applicants, at its discretion, and to appoint two as Directors.

Upon appointment, the Board of Directors shall, by lot, designate one member to a term ending in December 2020 and the other member to a term ending December 2022.

The following Coachella Valley residents submitted a letter of interest in serving on the Board of Directors for the Desert Healthcare District and Desert Healthcare Foundation. They will be interviewed during the special Board of Directors meeting January 15, 2019. Applicants are:

  • Bruce Underwood, DrPH, MPH, MSE, Indian Wells resident
  • Frank Figueroa, EdD, MPA, Coachella resident
  • Erin Teran, RN, Indio resident
  • Patricia Escoto, Indio resident
  • Ezekiel Bonillas, MBA, Indio resident
  • Karen Borja, Indio resident
  • Steve Brown, MA, Coachella resident
  • Linda Shestock, MFCC, MS, MBA, Palm Desert resident
  • Luciano Crespo, Indio resident
  • Jocelyn Vargas, M.Ed., Thermal resident
  • Trinidad Arredondo, Coachella resident
  • John Houston, PharmD, MHA, La Quinta resident
  • Leticia De Lara, MPH, Indio resident
  • Beatriz Gonzalez, Indio resident

Voters on Nov. 6 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.

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 after the election. “The District Board of Directors 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.”

Measure BB to expand the healthcare district and the number of directors 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.