Whenever you relocate, there are some many mundane considerations. Things you took for granted for where lived before: Where is the best, closest grocery store or pharmacy? It took years to find my someone who knows how to cut my hair; now, what do I do? Where is a decent dry cleaner, a reliable mechanic, a dog groomer? 

But perhaps one of the most important concerns is how to replace your doctor. What can you expect from medical services in the Coachella Valley?

The Coachella Valley has excellent medical resources. Doctors, medical centers, urgent care and hospitals can be found throughout the desert from Palm Springs to Indio. There are two major networks that provide all services: The Desert Care Network and Eisenhower Health. (For those seeking specialized HIV/AIDS care or sexual health services, including information about the Desert AIDS Project, please see *.)

Desert Care Network

The Desert Care Network, part of Tenet California Healthcare, includes the Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, a full-service, Level II trauma center hospital and medical center. On North Palm Canyon Drive, the hospital and medical center occupies the site of the famous El Mirador Hotel with its iconic bell tower. If you’re relocating to Palm Springs, this facility and its doctors would be your location of choice within the network. 

Other hospital facilities in the network include JFK Hospital in Indio and the Hi Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree. The Desert Care Network also operates medical offices in La Quinta, imaging centers in Palm Springs and La Quinta, and urgent care centers in Palm Desert, La Quinta and Indio. 

Eisenhower Health

Eisenhower Health (or Eisenhower Medical Center) is a local, not-for-profit medical system with a major footprint in the Coachella Valley. The medical center and hospital in Rancho Mirage got its start with Bob and Dolores Hope. Much of the original funding came through Bob Hope’s charity golf tournaments. Dolores Hope served on the board until she died in 2011. 

The main hospital campus on Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage houses many specialized health centers. Specialists in cancer, cardiology, orthopedics can be found in dedicated medical buildings. Eisenhower is also the home of the famous Betty Ford Center. 

Besides the hospital and its adjacent buildings, Eisenhower Health has medical centers at various locations in Palm Springs and other Coachella Valley cities. A primary care physician could have an office in any one of these medical centers; you can search the Eisenhower website to find one near you. Specialists may split their time between, say, a Rancho Mirage office and a Palm Springs location. In addition, some locations offer Eisenhower Primary Care 365, a fee service providing special access to your physician (also known as concierge service).

The Eisenhower Medical Center at Rimrock in Palm Springs specializes in serving the LGBTQ community, with doctors whose focus is on the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Rimrock is also the location of the Sexual Health Clinic. See * for more information.

Urgent Care facilities can be found in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and La Quinta. Lab and imaging services are scattered at various locations throughout the region. Almost every service can be found in Palm Springs. And, seriously, this valley isn’t that big; if you live in Palm Springs and need to see a doctor in Rancho Mirage, you’re only about 15 – 20 minutes away.

Kaiser Permanente

Many people moving to this area have health care provided by Kaiser. Although there is no Kaiser hospital in the Coachella Valley, there are limited Kaiser services in Palm Desert and Palm Springs. The Desert Regional Medical Center is a Kaiser affiliate, but you need to check on how your Kaiser policy handles hospital stays, as there may be added fees. You might want to check Yelp for feedback on Kaiser services here, because it differs from, for example, the Bay Area or other major metropolitan areas in the west.

Veterans Administration

For veterans moving to the desert region, who use VA health services, the closet VA medical center is in Loma Linda, approximately one hour west on the 10 freeway. The VA also operates a clinic in Palm Desert.

Medical Insurance

If you’re moving to Palm Springs from out of state and are self-insured, you may need to change your health insurance plan. California has a comparatively efficient and extensive health care system, known as Covered California. Moving to California is considered a qualifying life event, which means you can apply for coverage outside the open enrollment period. 

Making the Decision

Deciding on where to go for your medical needs in a new community is one of many important decisions you’ll need to make. Getting referrals from locals, who have lived here a while is one good way to go. You may not be able to see your first choice, as many doctors are booked up and not accepting new patients. You can usually find this out on the medical center’s websites. Of course, you can also check Yelp, or similar apps, just so long as you remain aware that some people seem to love writing lengthy, terrible reviews that have more to do with their attitude than the quality of the actual services provided.

Posted by Geoffrey Moore on


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