Those of you who follow us on Twitter and Facebook likely saw a few live updates from ACHD’s recent Southern California “Experience the Diversity” District tour, which balanced the Northern California tour that occurred in mid-October. We had a slightly larger group this trip, traveling across California’s Imperial and Coachella Valleys, as well as the Morongo Basin, with representatives from the Assembly Health Committee, Senate Republican Policy Office, Senator Joel Anderson’s office and the California Special Districts Association.
This two-day educational opportunity focused on Southern California’s desert-region Districts. After a short flight to San Diego, we traveled east to Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District, stopping at two of its facilities in Brawley and Calexico. We then drove to Palm Springs to visit Desert Healthcare District and completed the tour at Hi-Desert Memorial Health Care District in Joshua Tree.As with the Northern California tour, the goal was to educate attendees on the value each Districts has in their respective communities, while also discussing the challenges they face. For example, near the California/Mexico border, Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District offers the only obstetrics and emergency care within 90 minutes. It also serves a population with one of the highest unemployment rates in California (approx. 26 percent). Further, 30 to 40 percent of the District’s patients are covered by Medi-Cal, which is challenging from a reimbursement perspective.
Similarly, Hi-Desert Memorial Health Care District operates a 59-bed Safety Net Hospital that is the area’s sole provider of emergency, labor and delivery, medical surgical and advanced imaging services. The District serves a huge geographic area – roughly 750 square miles – with many residents living several miles from the closest paved road.
The visit to Desert Healthcare District was unique, being the only Community Based District on the tour. Although Desert Healthcare District does not operate a hospital (it leased its facility to Tenet in 1997), they make strategic investments to improve the community’s access to health care services and address health disparities.
Interestingly, the challenges faced by the Districts in Northern California mirror the ones discussed last week in Southern California – reimbursement, and physician recruitment and retention remain the top ongoing concerns.
ACHD is very pleased with the ongoing success of our “Experience the Diversity” Educational Opportunity, and are looking forward to planning next year’s District tours occurring in the fall of 2014.
Please contact the advocacy staff with any questions.