Program will provide services — including a needle exchange — for those living with addiction
A multi-layered program focused on education and disease testing, in addition to offering needle exchange services, will be unveiled in Palm Springs after receiving approval from the California Department of Public Health earlier this month.
The program, administered by DAP Health, aims to assist those in the community battling addiction. It will be the second program of its type in Riverside County.
“We have a mobile clinic that will go around the city of Palm Springs 24 hours a week,” CJ Tobe, DAP Health’s director of community health and sexual wellness, told the CV Independent. “Participants will be bringing in their used drug equipment, including their syringes or their points, and giving them to us to properly dispose.”
Needle exchange programs have proven controversial in many communities where they are offered. Still, they are vital, Tobe said, in making connections with those battling addiction. Those connections are essential to assuring other services provided through the “harm reduction program” are utilized.
“It’s not just, ‘You give us your used equipment, and we give you new equipment,’” Tobe said. “It’s, ‘Well, what else do you need help with today? Do you need housing? Do you need to talk to a housing case manager? Do you need food? What about medical care? When was the last time you had your blood sugar or blood pressure checked? Do you see a primary-care doctor?’”
Through the program, DAP Health will also distribute Naloxone/Narcan to reverse an overdose and prevent death, and Fentanyl test strips for testing drugs before use to decrease the likelihood of overdose.
There is no doubt about the need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 100,000 people in the U.S. died from overdoses during the 12-month period from April 2020 through April 2021. In Riverside County, there has been an 800% increase in fentanyl-related deaths since 2016.
In Palm Springs, it’s estimated that the overdose death rate is 300% higher than the state average. More than 20% of the people interviewed on city streets during the 2020 point-in-time count of homeless individuals reported being addicted to drugs.
“It’s important to remember the dynamics that go into a program like this,” Palm Springs Police Chief Andy Mills said. “That’s what excites me. Not only is DAP Health looking at helping people, but genuinely helping people so they are not destructive to themselves or our community.”
Issues involving the homeless in South Palm Springs, many of them seen using drugs and disposing of needles, have been reported for years. Residents of the city, Downtown landlords, and business owners have expressed anger and frustration, often to no avail.
Tobe acknowledged the stigma around addiction could lead many to reject the idea of programs aimed at helping addicts. But, he said, the science surrounding programs such as the one DAP Health is launching is sound.
“We will do this without stigma or judgment because you cannot treat someone who does not trust you,” he said in a prepared statement released Tuesday. “Harm reduction is an important tactic in DAP Health’s ongoing work to end the HIV epidemic. Work that begins with meeting folks where they are.”
More information: Through the program, DAP Health is providing a phone number (760-992-0453) and email address (HarmReduction@DAPHealth.org) for community members to report used syringes or other drug paraphernalia.
YOUNG MUSICIANS WANTED: The Coachella Valley Symphony is looking for a few good young people to be part of the organization as the 2022 season kicks off. Officials with the symphony said Tuesday anyone ages 8 through 18, regardless of musical ability, can participate in the Buddy Rogers Beginning Strings (BRBS) classes. The program is open to youth who want to play the violin, viola, cello, or bass. Instruments, sheet music, and methods books are provided. The symphony also seeks school-age children to participate in the Buddy Rogers Youth Symphony (BRYS). Students who participate in the BRYS are included in an annual combined concert with the adult members of the Coachella Valley Symphony. To register for either the youth symphony or beginning strings program, visit the symphony website at www.CVSymphony.com or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
SWIM CENTER RE-OPENS: The Palm Springs Swim Center, closed earlier this month due to an outbreak of COVID-19 that affected employees, is re-opening today, the city said Tuesday. Pool hours are 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., seven days a week, with reservations required from 7 a.m. until 12 p.m. Drop-ins are accepted from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. For more information, call 760-323-8272 or visit palmspringsca.gov. Other City facilities remain temporarily closed to walk-in traffic.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers six programs and classes today, starting at 8 a.m. You can find a complete list of all today’s offerings online here.
MOBILE HEALTH: A mobile health clinic will be parked at the James O. Jesse Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 W. Tramview Rd., from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Operated and staffed by Borrego Health, the mobile unit provides various medical services for residents.
SUNSHINE SISTERS: Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters will meet for a hike at Tahquitz Canyon today, followed by brunch. The hike starts at 9:30 a.m. You can sign up to be part of the group — formed to help women make new connections and friendships — on Meetup here.
HORA DE CUENTOS: La bibliotecaria Nancy Valdivia lee cuentos, canta canciones y enseña conceptos de aprendizaje temprano (miércoles en español y jueves en inglés) para estudiantes de preescolar de 10:30 a.m. a 11:30 a.m. Puedes ver los videos en YouTube aquí.
PALS CAFE: PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) holds an informal drop-in discussion via Zoom about any topic on the minds of participants from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m. More information about the organization can be found here. To participate in the discussion, check out the Zoom link here.
NOISE COMMITTEE: The Palm Springs Airport Commission’s Noise Committee meets via Zoom at 4 p.m. A complete agenda, including instructions on how to view or take part in the meeting, can be found here.
VIRTUAL CAFE: We Are One United, a nonprofit training and development company based in Palm Springs, holds virtual cafes every two weeks aiming to bring together youth and people from diverse communities in the area. Tonight at 5:30 p.m., Rebecca Cooke, an entrepreneur, small business owner, and nonprofit founder who is running for Congress in Wisconsin, will be joining the cafe on Zoom. To participate, complete the form available here.
AIRPORT COMMISSION: The Palm Springs International Airport Commission meets via Zoom at 5:30 p.m. A complete agenda, including instructions on how to view or take part in the meeting, can be found here.
ARTS COMMISSION: The Palm Springs Public Arts Commission meets via Zoom at 5:30 p.m. A complete agenda, including instructions on how to view or take part in the meeting, can be found here.
Need to get tested for COVID-19 but can’t find an at-home test and don’t know where to turn? Aside from asking your regular healthcare provider (if you have one), The Post maintains a list of places in and around the city that you can check, as well as information on how to order free test kits from the federal government. Please note the information is accurate at the time this email was sent, but may change.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
COMMUNITY CLEANUP: The first Community Cleanup of 2022 will be held Saturday, Jan. 22. Organizers with the Community Partnership on Homelessness (CPOH) encourage anyone who wants to help beautify the city to meet at the KFC parking lot at 725 South Palm Canyon Dr., at 8 a.m. Trash bags, disposable gloves, and water will be available. Closed-toed shoes and thicker gloves are recommended for your protection.
DISTRICT 1 MEETING: Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner is hosting a District 1 Town Hall on Saturday, Jan. 22, starting at 1 p.m. The event will be held via Zoom, using this link. During the meeting, the City Clerk will discuss redistricting and Garner will update constituents on matters of importance to them. She will also listen as residents discuss their concerns.
BENEFIT FOR INSTRUMENTS: An online benefit to raise money to purchase musical instruments for 3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade students in the Palm Springs Unified School District is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 22. LA Phil Affiliates in the Desert and the PSUSD Foundation will host the event on Zoom at 3 p.m. as part of the Zoom Salon Series. Featured will be saxophonist Vasti Andrade, a senior at Desert Hot Springs High School who has played the saxophone since 6th grade. More information about the event, including how to register, can be found here.
SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE: The Coachella Valley Symphony performs at 3 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater, 101 Museum Drive. Tickets range from $35 to $65 and can be purchased at the symphony’s website: www.CVSymphony.com
HBCU TOURS: The African American Parent Advisory Council (AAPAC) of the Palm Springs Unified School District recently announced two dozen students will be able to attend a tour of Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in April completely free of charge. The deadline for application to attend the tour is Jan. 31. Selected students will fly with approved chaperones to Washington DC and visit several HBCU’s and landmarks in the surrounding area. An application form is available here, and a permission slip for the tour is available here.