Fourth District Supervisor Manuel Perez Highlights Riverside University Health System Telehealth Expansion to Underserved Desert Communities

INDIO — On Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez attended the county’s first primary care telehealth visit in Indio for a patient located in Blythe. A nurse practitioner at the Riverside University Health System Community Health Center (RUHS CHC) in Indio connected to the patient virtually as part of the county’s latest efforts to expand high-quality care to this underserved community.

“The availability of telehealth services to access county health centers is a great development for the residents of Blythe,” said Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. “Blythe is designated as a Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Area. This telehealth service will increase access to county health services and enhance the health and quality of life for the community of Blythe.”

Monday’s visit showcases the work currently being done and the necessary steps needed to help bridge the gap for residents of Riverside County who do not have regular access to a healthcare provider.

“We are proud to be furthering our efforts in offering essential healthcare services to some of the county’s most vulnerable residents,” RUHS CHC, Chief Executive Officer, Jennifer Cruikshank said. “The ability to provide telehealth to patients in hard-to-reach areas widens our reach and the potential for new opportunities. While this offers hope and progress, we will continue to forge our efforts and ease the burden for communities that lack basic resources which can deter them from receiving a fundamental service.”

Blythe is Riverside County’s easternmost city. The rural area is largely agricultural and has had its fair share of challenges with healthcare accessibility, which was vastly highlighted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The region is supported by Palo Verde Hospital, which is the sole hospital in the area.  Currently more than a quarter of Blythe’s population is living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest data tracking in 2020. Transportation challenges and lack of healthcare coverage frequently contribute to the inability for residents to seek the care that is needed.

“This is a dream come true because we’ve worked for eight years to get physicians and specialists to provide quality care to Blythe’s largely underserved population,” Palo Verde Hospital CEO, Sandra Anaya said. “The growth our region and hospital have experienced in the past months truly attests to what can happen when the whole county pulls together. We are a stronger unified healthcare system that becomes much more capable in providing for our most vulnerable communities in hard-to-reach areas.”

RUHS has had a long-standing relationship with Palo Verde and has served as the hospital’s first line of support in improving access to healthcare services in the region for the past several years. Earlier this year RUHS deployed a mobile health clinic to offer the community flexible and viable support for treating this remote population. Blythe residents can call 1-800-720-9553 to schedule an appointment or learn more about the services being offered.

Photo caption above: Supervisor V. Manuel Perez and a nurse practitioner attended the county’s first primary care telehealth visit in Indio for a patient located in Blythe.


Image Sources

  • Supervisor Perez: RUHS