Measure BB aims to expand medical resources to the East Valley

Measure BB aims to expand medical resources to the East Valley

Claudia Buccio

Dr. Les Zendle points at a map showing that Cook Street in Palm Desert is the most eastern boundary of the Desert Healthcare District’s coverage. Dr. Zendle is the president of the Desert Healthcare District and a proponent of Measure BB, a piece of legislation that hopes to reduce the healthcare disparities between the Western and Eastern Coachella Valley.

“Whether you look at the health providers, clinics and the ability to get to those clinics,” Dr. Zendle said. “There is a big disparity.”

The Desert Healthcare District does not offer direct medical services, but they do offer resources to health organizations and providers.

“It supports community organizations, providers, school districts, colleges who provide health care services, who train healthcare workers, providers,” Zendle said. “We also help organizations that pay attention to the social determinants of health.”

As of now, Desert Healthcare District only serves residents who live on the West side of Cook St., which includes cities such as Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs. With Measure BB, the district lines would move beyond Cook St. offering services to the East Valley. This would reach all the way to communities neighboring the Salton Sea.

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia is a proponent of Measure BB. In a statement, Assemblymember Garcia said,“the expansion of these essential health care programs and services will help meet the needs of Coachella Valley families and provide a foundation to meet our future healthcare needs as one united region.”

Only registered voters who live on the eastern side of Cook St. will find Measure BB on their ballot. The Desert Healthcare District Valley gets resources from the county based on property taxes from residents who live in the West Valley. The East Valley already pays the same property taxes as the West, so this district line adjustment would not cost more money.

“We will start using some money that doesn’t come from property tax, and we hope to supplement that with not tax money from people, but grants and other foundations that want to help decrease the disparity between the healthcare in the East and West Valley,” Dr. Zendle said.

A “Yes” vote on Measure BB would include the east valley to the Desert District Healthcare while a “No” vote would keep the current district lines.