Healthcare District Board Approves $410K for Mental Health Support and Blood Replacement Therapies

The Desert Healthcare District and Foundation Board approved on Oct.25 three grants totaling $410,000, with $270,000 going toward mental health support.

Addressing the mental and behavioral health challenges of Coachella Valley residents has long been a priority for the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation, Will Dean, director of communications and marketing, told Uken Report.

“In 2018, our Board allocated $2 million to establish the Behavioral Health Initiative to support various programs and services,” Dean said. “Another $2 million was approved for this initiative in June (2022).”

During the past three years the Healthcare District has strengthened its commitment to this important issue, commissioning a Coachella Valley behavioral health needs assessment in 2019 and hiring Jana Trew as senior program officer – behavioral health in 2021, Dean said.

“Since joining the District staff, Ms. Trew has been immersed in coordinating a collective of more than 60 community partners to identify and address our community’s challenges to behavioral health care,” Dean said. “That work is ongoing.”

The collective is comprised of three working groups and a steering committee which provides oversight and is led by Dr. Conrado Bárzaga, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation CEO, and by Dr. Matthew Chang, director of Riverside University Health System – Behavioral Health.

Also, in 2021, the District adopted a new, five-year strategic plan to inform future funding and programming decisions.

One of the seven main goals in the strategic plan is to “proactively expand community access to behavioral/mental health services,” Dean said.

The $410,000 will support two mental/behavioral health programs and a specialized, life-saving medical procedure for patients in Coachella Valley hospitals. Here are the grant awards:

  • Jewish Family Service of the Desert, $160,000 – This grant supports the personnel costs of providing mental health counseling services and helps fund launching a support group for teens who are experiencing mental health challenges and their parents or guardians.
  • LifeStream Blood Bank, $140,000 – This grant assists in providing 100 to 125 therapeutic apheresis (TA) treatments per year for 20 to 30 local hospital patients. This specialized medical procedure removes harmful components of a patient’s blood and replaces them with either albumin or other blood products.
  • The Foundation for Palm Springs Unified School District, $110,000 – The grant supports establishing “wellness centers” at each of four elementary schools in Desert Hot Springs. The centers provide a calm, comfortable setting for students to access individual or group counseling to address mental and behavioral health challenges.

I also want to mention that some recent funding for behavioral health programs was the result of a Request for Proposals process. Follow the link and you can see details of such an RFP.

Learn more about the grants program.


About the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation

The Desert Healthcare District is a local government agency formed in 1948. Its mission is to achieve optimal health at all stages of life for all District residents. The District includes more than 400,000 residents and encompasses the entire Coachella Valley. The District and Desert Healthcare Foundation, together, are one of the largest funders in the valley. These funds are used to assist residents — especially the underserved — in accessing vitally needed resources, such as primary and behavioral healthcare.

Image Sources

  • Mental health: Shutterstock