Music-promoter Goldenvoice puts on the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals here every year—but that’s not all that Goldenvoice does in the Coachella Valley.
Goldenvoice, in partnership with California CareForce, is holding another free health clinic at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, on April 3-6.
Last year, California CareForce and Goldenvoice provided free medical, dental and vision care to 2,770 people at a cost of just more than $1 million.
During a recent interview in La Quinta, CareForce president Pamela Congdon discussed the specifics of the four-day clinic.
“We’ll have 70 dental chairs and 10 vision lanes, and we can make about 300 prescription glasses per day,” Congdon said. “We give a full eye exam, and with the dentists, we can do extractions, restorative fillings and cleanings. We run it like a mini vision office and a mini dentist’s office. Medical will also have acupuncture and a chiropractor.”
Congdon said that they hope to help at least 900 patients a day.
“It’s really the working poor,” she said. “It’s people who have jobs who are good people, and they’re down on their luck. The problem is that if people can afford medical insurance, it doesn’t include dental and vision. Eighty to 90 percent of the people who come through our clinic need dental and vision. Some of these people haven’t been to the dentist in 20 years, and some people have been using an old pair of glasses.”
She told one story about a college student who needed extensive dental work.
“He needed five implants and a bunch of other dental work,” she said. “Good kid, college student—and he had an estimate of $20,000. We weren’t able to do the implants at our clinic, but we were able to remove all of the teeth.
“These are people like you or me. It could be your neighbor coming through—you don’t know. When I went the first time, I thought it was going to be a bunch of homeless people, and it’s not.”
Goldenvoice’s involvement has been essential to providing these services. Congdon said that after noticing the income divide in the area, as well as the lack of medical services and the valley’s spread-out nature, Goldenvoice was eager to step in and give back to the community.
“I think they’ve been so grateful to the community for the Coachella festival,” she said. “They wanted to give back to the community and the people who can’t afford to come to their festivals.”
The people who line up to receive care are also very grateful, even though many of them face a long wait.
“They feel like you have given them hope and their dignity back,” she said. “They will come up to you and say, ‘We don’t know what we would have done without you.’”
Congdon had advice for how people should prepare if they need services at the clinic.
“It’s going to be a long night,” she said. “They need to bring their medication; they need to bring snacks and food, and nothing that’s sugared or anything like that. We want them not to feel stressed. They should also bring portable chairs. We’ll get them through the clinic as fast as we can. Unfortunately, we don’t know any other way for them to get in line and get the ticket.”
Congdon said that the medical professionals ask no questions related to citizenship.
“When they come through, we do patient registration. We just get emergency contacts and demographic information, and whatever of that they want to give us is fine. Then they need to go to triage; we need to make sure their blood pressure isn’t too high. We do diabetes testing; and we ask for their medical history.”
The California CareForce Clinic will take place at the Riverside County Fairgrounds, 82503 Highway 111, in Indio, from Thursday, April 3, through Sunday, April 6. Tickets will be issued to patients at 3:30 a.m. each day. Only one service number will be issued to each person in line. Patients will be let into the clinic at 5:30 a.m. for registration. For more information, call 877-811-6038, or visit www.californiacareforce.org.