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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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Special District

Desert Health Care DistrictCandidate for Director

Photo of Les Zendle

Les Zendle

Physician / Medical Director
24,457 votes (18.58%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Improving access to mental health and primary care services (for people with and without insurance - including the under-insured.
  • Encouraging community-based education programs to teach people how to navigate our often confusing healthcare system
  • Addressing healthcare disparities and culturally competent care to better serve the Coachella Valley's diverse population.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Physician/Medical Director
Volunteer physician and medical director, Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine — Appointed position (2011–current)
Member, Palm Springs Task Force on Ethics, Transparency and Government Reform — Appointed position (2016–current)
Commissioner, Palm Springs Human Rights Commission — Appointed position (2010–2015)
Physician (Geriatrics and Internal Medicine), Kaiser Permanente Southern California Region (1980–2010)
Board of Directors, AIDS Project Los Angeles — Appointed position (2002–2008)
Board of Trustees, Union for Reform Judaism — Appointed position (1995–1999)

Education

Harvard Business School AMP , Advanced Management Program (1996)
University of Arizona M.D., Medicine (1977)
Occidental College A.B., Biology (1974)

Community Activities

President, Past President, Board Member and Member, Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim (1980–current)

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Congressman Raul Ruiz
  • Desert Healthcare District President Dr. William Grimm
  • Desert Stonewall Democrats

Organizations (4)

  • Equality California
  • Riverside County Democratic Party
  • Democrats of the Desert
  • Planned Parenthood

Elected Officials (2)

  • Palm Springs City Councilperson Geoff Kors
  • Palm Springs Councilperson Ginny Foat

Individuals (2)

  • President-elect Eisenhower Medical Center staff Dr. Joseph Sanchez
  • Past Director Desert Healthcare District Dr. Glen Grayman

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

My priorities

Summary

Below are a list of my priorities for the use of Desert Healthcare District grant money.

1.    Improving access to primary care and especially mental health care (for people with and without insurance – including the under-insured).  The District should help fund training programs for providers in these fields.  Also, the District can use grants to help non-profits expand their counseling services (e.g., Jewish Family Service, LGBT Community Center of the Desert, etc.)

2.    Developing community-based programs in health education --- both teaching people how to navigate our often non-integrated healthcare system (e.g., urgent care, emergency care, home health care, social services, etc.) and educating the community in wellness, disease prevention and self-treatment.

3.    Addressing issues of healthcare disparities and educating all providers in culturally competent care. The Coachella Valley’s Latino, Native American, African-American and the LGBTQ communities present unique challenges to those delivering high quality healthcare.  As a community-wide organization, the District is in a unique position to address issues these challenges.

District expansion to the eastern Coachella Valley

Summary

The following paper summarizes how I feel about the expansion of the Desert Healthcare District to the eastern Coachella Valley, as well as how I propose paying for the new services.

I very much support the expansion of the Desert Healthcare District to the eastern Coachella Valley for two reasons.  First, it is the most efficient way to offer residents of eastern Valley similar support in improving the health of that community --- something they need and deserve.  Second, dividing the Coachella Valley into two halves makes no sense from either a public health or an access to healthcare perspective.  Residents cross Cook Street (in both directions) to work, shop, eat and seek medical care.  Desert Regional Medical Center is home to the Coachella Valley’s only designated trauma center and the only neonatal intensive care unit. 

As to how to pay for the expansion, AB 2414 calls upon the Riverside County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) to do an “analysis of funding sources available to the district”.  I would hope that such funding could come from the taxes residents already pay rather than new taxes.  Perhaps as part of the negotiations of a possible new lease agreement with Tenet Corporation for Desert Regional Medical Center, Tenet could contribute part of their profit to expand the district.

Tenet Corporation operation of Desert Regional Hospital

Summary

Should Tenet be given approval to operate the hospital beyond 2027?

Although the District Board does not manage Desert Regional Medical Center (DRMC), I believe it has a clear responsibility to ensure the hospital provides high quality affordable care to District residents.  The current lease with Tenet Healthcare does not expire until 2027, however, the District Board can represent the community to help identify issues and to continually improve the quality of care and service at the Medical Center. 

The recent low score from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is concerning, but it needs to be put in the context of other health scorecards such as the Hospital Safety Score from the Leapfrog Group, Consumer Reports, Healthgrades, US News and World Reports, etc.  Each of these scorecards gives us information about the quality of care and service at DRMC. Tenet should use all this information, as well as its own quality assessment activities, to continually improve.

Two services I think Tenet should certainly add are inpatient psychiatry beds and more beds in the Emergency Department.

 

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