By Johnny Flores, Jr.
Thermal, Calif. – Residents from throughout the Eastern Coachella Valley will flock to Desert Mirage High School to receive medical attention from The Flying Doctors and other local medical professionals this Saturday, March 31, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For some attendees, this is the only time they will have receive medical care for an entire year, if not longer. In a community where medical attention is severely lacking and transportation is largely unavailable, this event is desperately needed.
Over 1,500 patients were treated when The Flying Doctors were last here in September 2011. Organizers expect to exceed those numbers tomorrow.
Health care services being offered include: medical exams, dental treatments, eye exams, mammograms, diabetic screenings, blood pressure checks, and chiropractic services. In addition, there will be educational movie screenings, a resource fair, and free child care. The objective of this event is to help communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley live a healthier lifestyle and help residents find a medical and dental home.
“We as a community in the Eastern Coachella Valley lack in resources,” said Lucy Moreno, community health outreach program coordinator for Clínicas de Salud del Pueblo. “This event is put on so that those desperately-needed resources are brought to those who are in desperate need.”
The Coachella Valley Healthcare Access report in December 2010 states that the Coachella Valley has a healthcare crisis due to the magnitude of insufficient healthcare access. The degree of poverty and lack of healthcare services make the communities in the Coachella Valley among the most underserved in the state of California.
“We encourage the community to live healthier and that is what this event plans on doing,” said Moreno, who is the local event coordinator for The Flying Doctors. “We want to inform about different things so in turn they will change their lifestyles in hopes of living healthier than previously.”
With Regional Access Project Foundation as the lead sponsor and several co-sponsors — including The Royal Plaza Inn, Coachella Valley Unified School District, Desert Women for Equality Program, Coachella Valley Rotary Club, John F. Kennedy Hospital, Western Growers, Borrego Community Health Foundation, Volunteers in Medicine, Ciro’s Restaurants and Forest Lawn — this Saturday’s event aims to the biggest in the programs sixteen years.
The Flying Doctors, or Los Médicos Voladores in Spanish, is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that aims to improve the health and well being of geographically diverse people through education and the provision of no-cost, high quality medical, dental and optometry services. This group of volunteers serves Mexico, Central and South America, and migrant labor populations in the South Eastern regions of California.
“Until a health care reform is completed than an event like this is a necessity,” said Moreno.
The Flying Doctors plan to return to the Eastern Coachella Valley this fall.
For more information, visit www.flyingdocs.org.