About the Speakers
Reham Attia, M.D., studied medicine in the University Of Alexandria, Egypt and returned to the States for her residency in Glendale Adventist Family Medicine Residency Program. Fascinated by her experience in the Glendale Adventist Alcohol and Drug Services (GAADS), she then attended Loma Linda University Addiction Medicine Fellowship. Dr. Attia was awarded the Medical Education and Research Foundation for the Treatment of Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies (MERF) scholarship. She is double board certified in Family Medicine (ABFM) and Addiction Medicine (ABAM, ABPM). She recently became certified by the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM).
She practiced for several years as the main inpatient addiction medicine physician in The Betty Ford Center and currently is a core faculty member in the Eisenhower Family Medicine Residency.
Dr. Attia is an active member of the California Society of Addiction Medicine and the California Academy of Family Physicians. She has lectured in the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and taught medical students in the Summer Institute of Medical Students (SIMS). Dr. Attia is dedicated to evidence based medicine and improving standards of care.
Luke Barrett, MSW, is a social worker at UC San Diego Health and a volunteer with the UC San Diego Free Clinic. His current responsibilities include case management for medical patients, program development, and data analysis. Prior to his current position with UC San Diego, he served as a data system design and implementation consultant for a variety of homeless service programs including street medicine. Mr. Barrett has a professional background in information technology, homeless service coordination, and health care for the homeless. He holds a Master of Social Work degree from California State University Northridge, is a United States Coast Guard veteran, and is the former Vice President of Professional Development for the National Association of Social Workers Santa Barbara Chapter.
Rev. Tom Cox, Master of Divinity has pastored in the church, the hospital, and hospice for over twenty-four years prior to starting work at Coachella Valley Rescue Mission in 2014 as their Program Director. Tom holds a Masters of Divinity from Phoenix Seminary. “My work and passion is for the lost and broken to be rescued, redeemed, and restored to their new lives with love, dignity, and respect.”
Noemi "Mimi" Doohan, M.D., Ph.D., is the program director of a new rural family medicine residency program, launching in July 2019, sponsored by Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, California, and affiliated as an integrated Rural Training Track (RTT) with UC Davis. Dr. Doohan has expertise in the emerging field of Street Medicine having founded and led two programs, Doctors Without Walls in Santa Barbara and Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Street Medicine. She practices full scope family medicine from hospitalist to prisons, to outpatient primary care and global health in Haiti. She is the chair elect of the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA), Working Party on Women and Family Medicine. Dr. Doohan was raised in Berkeley CA, attended Mills College for undergraduate studies, UCSB for a PHD in molecular Biology, Stanford for Medical School and Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez for Family Medicine Residency Training.
Brett J. Feldman, MSPAS, PA-C, is the Director of Street Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and serves as the Vice Chair of the International Street Medicine Institute. He has practiced homeless medicine since 2007 and founded three programs including the DeSales University Free Clinic, Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) Street Medicine in Allentown, PA, and Keck School of Medicine of USC Street Medicine in Los Angeles, CA. In 2017, Mr. Feldman and LVHN hosted the 13th Annual International Street Medicine Symposium in Allentown, PA. He is a winner of the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants Humanitarian of the Year Award, Penn State University Alumni Service Award and the Lehigh Valley Healthcare Hero Award. His work has been featured in the Washington Post, CNN, the Associated Press and Telemundo. A PBS documentary featuring Brett and the street medicine program which he founded, Close to Home: Street Medicine, won an Emmy award in 2018.
R. Ronald Hare, M.D., did his internship at LA County Medical Center and completed a surgical residency at University of California, San Francisco Medical Center and a Specialty surgical residency in vascular and trauma surgery at LA County Medical Center. In 1971, he started the largest American Indian free clinic in Los Angeles, which was the largest in the U.S. Dr. Hare is Past Chairman of the Board at JFK Memorial Hospital and founded Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine.
Richard Loftus, M.D. is a founding Associate Program Director of the internal medicine residency at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, CA, and is an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. His work as an AIDS activist with the group ACT UP (noted in Jon Cohen’s Shot in the Dark) in the early 1990s led him to clinical research and then medical training at UCSF. He graduated as valedictorian from UCSF in 2001, where he also completed a residency and fellowship in HIV Clinical Care. He has worked at the Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine since 2013 and was a founding member of CVVIM’s Homeless Medical Outreach project. He works as a full-time hospitalist, AIDS researcher, and medical educator.
Rosa S. Lucas, FNP-C “Think globally - Act locally” is Rosa’s guiding mantra. Her heart is with the medically underserved community, working toward health care access for the migrant, homeless, addicted, and undocumented, and other underserved people in the eastern Coachella Valley. She believes, intellectually and spiritually, that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege.
Since age 16, Rosa has been active in political and social justice movements when she drove from Beverly Hills, her home, to Watts, registering people door-to-door for the Rumford Fair Housing Act.
After attending UC Berkeley, the University of Madrid,and graduating from UCLA, she was an organizer in the Peace and Justice movements. Returning to college, Rosa received her AA/RN from Santa Monica College, Adult Health Nurse Practitioner Certification from Cal State-LA and Family Nurse Practitioner degree from Charles R. Drew Post-Graduate Medical School/Martin Luther King Hospital in Watts, California.
Rosa is proud of being a founding board member of Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine, whose Board recognized the need for Street Medicine. She became volunteer team leader of their Homeless Medical Outreach project. With backpacks filled with medical supplies, a team of varied medical professionals and community volunteers goes to the encampments and other areas to provide medical and behavioral health services.
She has been honored by many organizations for her work and dedication to betterment of services where she sees injustice. At age 73, she is proud to have been recognized by Riverside County for a 2019 Senior Inspiration Award. Rosa has been awarded by Mujeres Mexicanas, now Lideres Campesinas, for her work as Madrina and medical consultant for 30 years. She was first contacted 25 years ago by the Flying Medical Volunteer, who have come to the east valley annually since. She was instrumental in opening the school-based clinic at CV High School, and opening an FQHC in Oasis. For almost 20 years, Rosa served on the Advisory Board of Headstart for Desert Sands and Coachella Valley Unified School Districts and became CVUSD’s Medical Consultant for Head Start and Early Childhood Programs in 2006. She received an award from CVUSD for her meaningful work in the community.
In 1999 Rosa opened her own low cost family medical clinic, Clinica California, which offered bilingual culturally sensitive care, HIV testing, and counseling. She was honored by Desert AIDS Project and the Torres Martinez Tribe with a fellowship in HIV/AIDS at UC Irvine Medical Center.
Rosa is employed as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Eisenhower Health System’s Urgent Care Clinics. She works with both Family Medicine and Internal Medicine residents, inspiring them at CVVIM and Street Medicine outreach.
Ann Mostofi, MSN, RN, NEA-BC has been a member of the Senior Leadership Team at Eisenhower Medical Center since 2009. In her first 3 years at EMC, she served as the Vice President, Clinical Ancillary Services; in the last 4 years, she has been the Vice President, Patient Care Services/CNO. Ann has led the Nursing Team at Eisenhower to attain the coveted Magnet Hospital Recognition. This designation is the highest and most prestigious distinction a healthcare organization can receive for nursing excellence and high-quality patient care. This international designation is earned by less than 8% of U.S. hospitals. She has served as a member of the administrative team of Eisenhower Medical Center who have led the hospital to be recognized for numerous recognitions for patient care quality, including being named #1 in the Riverside, California Metro Area by U.S. News and World Report. Prior to joining Eisenhower Medical Center, Ann held the position of Vice President, Health Care Services at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, where she was responsible for the Trauma and Emergency Services Line, the Medicine, Medical Subspecialties/Transplant Services Line, the Surgical Services Line, Women’s and Children’s Services Line and Administrator of the Hospitalist Program. Prior to that position, Ann also served as Chief Nurse Executive and Vice President of Clinical Operations at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago, as well as Vice President of Health and Patient Services at Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston, Illinois, a member of the Resurrection Healthcare System and Vice President and CNO for Swedish American Hospital in Rockford, Illinois. Ms. Mostofi had system responsibility for several initiatives within Resurrection Healthcare, including the Behavioral Health Care Service Line.
Ms. Mostofi currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Mizell Senior Center in Palm Springs, California and is a Past President of the Inland Empire Chapter of the Association of California Nurse Leaders. She was recently honored by the Association of California Nurse Leaders, receiving the 2016 Best Practice Administration Award.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and a Master’s Degree in Nursing from Loyola University, Chicago. She is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Nurse Executive, Advanced.
Valentin Nuzhny, M.D. was born in Ukraine, but considers himself an Angelino native, as he spent most of his life in Los Angeles. He graduated with Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences from University of California, Irvine, and went on to achieve his medical degree at Ross University on the island of Dominica. After completing his clinical years in Bakersfield, California, he developed a strong sense of devotion to providing medical care to those who rarely seek it. This experience gave him a deep appreciation for various cultural differences as well as guided him in perfecting his patient approach. He knew Eisenhower Medical Center would be his top choice to pursue his dream of becoming a family medicine physician immediately after the interview. Academic achievements of the educators, camaraderie of residents, and the warm welcome he received were amongst the things that attracted him to this residency program. He became involved with Street Medicine in his first year of residency, and continues to participate now well into his second year. He finds that being a part of street medicine is not only a rewarding professional experience, but also a spiritual one.
James J. O’Connell, M.D., President, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1970 and received his master’s degree in theology from Cambridge University in 1972. After graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1982, he completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). In 1985, Dr. O'Connell began full-time clinical work with homeless individuals as the founding physician of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, which now serves over 13,000 homeless persons each year in two hospital-based clinics (Boston Medical Center and MGH) and in more than 60 shelters and outreach sites in Boston. With his colleagues, Dr. O’Connell established the nation’s first medical respite program for homeless persons in September, 1985, with 25 beds in the Lemuel Shattuck Shelter. This innovative program now provides acute and sub-acute, pre- and post-operative, and palliative and end-of-life care in the freestanding 104-bed Barbara McInnis House. Working with the MGH Laboratory of Computer Science, Dr. O’Connell designed and implemented the nation’s first computerized medical record for a homeless program in 1995.
From 1989 until 1996, Dr. O'Connell served as the National Program Director of the Homeless Families Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Dr. O’Connell is the editor of The Health Care of Homeless Persons: A Manual of Communicable Diseases and Common Problems in Shelters and on the Streets. His articles have appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Circulation, the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Clinical Ethics, and several other medical journals.
Dr. O’Connell has been featured on ABC’s Nightline and in the feature-length documentary Give Me a Shot of Anything. He has received numerous awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award in 2012 and The Trustees’ Medal at the bicentennial celebration of MGH in 2011. Dr. O’Connell has collaborated with homeless programs in many cities in the USA and across the globe, including Los Angeles, London, and Sydney. Dr. O’Connell’s book Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor was published in 2015 in celebration of BHCHP’s 30th anniversary. Dr. O’Connell is president of BHCHP and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Victor Manuel Perez was appointed by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. on May 9, 2017 to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, representing the County’s Fourth District, and was subsequently elected to a four-year term in June 2018. The Fourth Supervisorial District covers the eastern two-thirds of Riverside County, stretching from Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs, south to the Salton Sea and east to Blythe and the Colorado River.
Manuel is grateful for the opportunity to serve in this important position, and looks forward to contributing his experience in local and state government to work on behalf of families and every community in the Fourth District.
Born and raised in the Coachella Valley, the son of immigrant farmworkers, Manuel attended local public schools and graduated from the University of California, Riverside. He taught at a local middle school, and went on to earn a Master of Education degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University.
He worked as a youth advocate and director of community health and advocacy for Santa Rosa Del Valle-Borrego Health, at Centro Medico Coachella and Centro Medico Oasis. From 2004 to 2008, he served on the Coachella Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees, where he led the passage of a $250 million bond to construct and renovate schools in the eastern Coachella Valley.
In 2008, Manuel was elected to the California State Assembly, representing eastern Riverside County and Imperial County. Entering office during the great recession, he worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Governor’s Office to bring forth fiscal accountability, health care reform, renewable energy growth and job creation legislation.
A champion for eastern Riverside County, Manuel had more than 60 pieces of legislation signed into law to help create jobs, jumpstart the local renewable energy industry and make neighborhoods safer. His legislation focused on jobs, economic development, small business, education, health care access, infrastructure, renewable energy, transportation, air quality, environment, public safety, parks, technology, agriculture, water and the Salton Sea.
In the Assembly, Manuel became majority leader and worked closely with the Assembly Speaker on the day-to-day functions of the statehouse. He served as the chairman of the Jobs and Economic Development Committee, founding Vice Chair of the Select Committee for the Status of Boys and Men of Color as well as Chair of Stimulus, Economic Recovery and Jobs (SERJ).
After serving three terms in the State Assembly, Manuel continued his public service with election to the Coachella City Council. Prior to his appointment to county supervisor, he was Chief Government and Public Affairs Officer for Borrego Health, a federally qualified health center serving the under-served in San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
Manuel resides in his native city of Coachella with Gladis, his wife of 21 years. They have two sons, Ruben, who graduated from UC Davis and Alejandro, who attends UC Santa Barbara.
Arlene Rosenthal is in her fourteenth year as president of The Well in the nullDesert! One wonders how she can cram what seems like 36 hours of dedication into a standard 24 hour day while leading The Well’s grateful clients and benefactors. But she does, and with a great deal of panache at that. With a long history of serving on various desert boards, including Aids Assistance, Museum Associates Council, Palm Springs Opera Guild and OperaArts, she has worked with Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, the Stroke Recovery Center and the Athena Foundation. Way back when, Arlene initially joined The Well Board as it was struggling through hard times and she felt she could help revitalize the organization. Fast forward 14 years and she still works passionately to make sure people who have no voice have someone to speak for them, that those who are poor or homeless and in need of support can find the help they need and that they will not go hungry. A graduate of UCLA, she continued her education at Berkley in 1967 and was “part of a beautiful movement that advocated peace and love and making the world a better place.”
Arlene says her well-known heroes are Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and Simon Weisenthal, and that locally it is Harold Matzner that she admires most. If she could invite three famous people to dinner, Arlene lists Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King and Bella Abzug. (Oh, to be a fly on that wall at that gathering!) For relaxation and fun she lists swimming, writing poetry and being creative. As for the best advice she’s ever received? “Breathe, meditate, and all will be well.”
U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D., grew up in the community of Coachella, California, where both of his parents were farmworkers. Dr. Ruiz achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a physician through public education. After graduating from Coachella Valley High School, Dr. Ruiz graduated magna cum laude from UCLA. He went on to Harvard University, where he earned his Medical Degree, as well as a Masters of Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a Masters of Public Health from the School of Public Health, becoming the first Latino to earn three graduate degrees from Harvard University. He completed his Residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and a Fellowship in International Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. During his training, Dr. Ruiz served as a consultant to the Ministries of Health of both Serbia and El Salvador.
Dr. Ruiz returned home after completing his medical training and began working as an Emergency Room doctor at Eisenhower Medical Center. Recognizing the physician shortage crisis in the Coachella Valley, Dr. Ruiz started a pre-medical mentorship program for young aspiring doctors, which has grown to include over 100 local students. The program became part of the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine, where Dr. Ruiz served as a Senior Associate Dean. Through the group Volunteers in Medicine, he helped to open a free clinic to help underserved communities in the Coachella Valley.
In 2010, Dr. Ruiz started the Coachella Valley Healthcare Initiative, which brought together stakeholders from across the region to address the local healthcare crisis. He has also worked internationally in the medical community. In 2010, Dr. Ruiz flew to Haiti immediately following the 2010 earthquake and served as the Medical Director for the J/P Haitian Relief Organization. The U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne awarded him the Commander’s Award for Public Service for his work.
Dr. Ruiz continued his work as an Emergency Room Doctor until he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. He represents California’s 36th District, which includes the entire Coachella Valley, as well as the cities of Banning, Beaumont, Blythe, Hemet and San Jacinto. He resides in Palm Desert, CA. Dr. Ruiz currently serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Cintya Beltran Sanchez, B.S. graduated from Indio High School in 2012. She continued her education at College of the Desert and transferred to UCSD, where she completed her Human Biology Bachelor's degree in 2017. As a student, she was involved in educating the homeless about health, in San Diego’s shelters. Preparing herself and returning home to give back to her community, in the Coachella Valley, has always been one of her aspirations, which is why she decided to spend her gap year in the Coachella Valley prior to enrolling in medical school. Cintya currently works as a paraeducator for the Desert Sands Unified School District, and coaches for her former soccer team at Indio High School. She also volunteers at the Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine clinic. Her desire to serve others does not stop within the walls of the clinic, every Tuesday night she ventures out into the homeless encampments to deliver medical care with the clinic’s Street Medicine Team. With hopes of improving the care of homeless communities globally, she recently finished a research project that focuses on how to efficiently deliver care to the homeless. The poster was selected to be presented on a national and international level. Cintya is focused and committed to improving the lives of underserved communities and plans to enroll in medical school next year.
Joseph E. Scherger, M.D., M.P.H., is a family physician with Primary Care 365 at the Eisenhower Health Center in La Quinta, CA. He is also a core faculty with the Eisenhower Health Family Medicine Residency Program. Dr. Scherger is Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC). Dr. Scherger is a leader in transforming office practice and has special interests in nutrition and using lifestyle change to reverse disease. He is the author of two books, 40 Years in Family Medicine (2014) and Lean and Fit: A Doctor’s Journey to Healthy Nutrition and Greater Wellness (Third Edition, 2019). Dr. Scherger is a Senior Fellow with the Estes Park Institute.
Originally from Delphos, Ohio, Dr. Scherger graduated from the University of Dayton in 1971, summa cum laude. He graduated from the UCLA School of Medicine in 1975, and was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha. He completed a Family Medicine Residency and a Masters in Public Health at the University of Washington in 1978. From 1978-80, he served in the National Health Service Corps in Dixon, California, as a migrant health physician. From 1981-92, Dr. Scherger divided his time between private practice in Dixon and teaching medical students and residents at UC Davis. From 1988-91, he was a Fellow in the Kellogg National Fellowship Program, focusing on health care reform and quality of life. From 1992-1996, he was Vice President for Family Practice and Primary Care Education at Sharp HealthCare in San Diego. From 1996-2001, he was the Chair of the Department of Family Medicine and the Associate Dean for Primary Care at the University of California Irvine. From 2001-2003, Dr. Scherger served as founding dean of the Florida State University College of Medicine.
Dr. Scherger has received numerous awards, including being recognized as a “Top Doc” in San Diego for 6 consecutive years, 2004-2009. He was voted Outstanding Clinical Instructor at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine in 1984, 1989 and 1990. In 1989, he was Family Physician of the Year by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the California Academy of Family Physicians. In 1986, he was President of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. In 1992, Dr. Scherger was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1994, he received the Thomas W. Johnson Award for Family Practice Education from the American Academy of Family Physicians. In 2000, he was selected by the UC Irvine medical students for the AAMC Humanism in Medicine Award. He received the Lynn and Joan Carmichael Recognition Award from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine in 2012. In 2016 Dr. Scherger received the Desert Health Integrative Practitioner Wellness Award. He was the 2017 President of the Riverside County Medical Association.
Dr. Scherger served on the Institute of Medicine Committee on the Quality of Health Care in America from 1998-2001. Dr. Scherger served on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Board of Family Medicine. Dr. Scherger currently serves on the editorial board of Medical Economics and was an Assistant Editor of Family Medicine from 2010-1017. He was the Men’s Health expert and a consultant for Revolution Health, 2006-09, and he has covered California for eDocAmerica since 2003. He was Editor-in-Chief of Hippocrates, published by the Massachusetts Medical Society, from 1999-2001. He was the first Medical Editor of Family Practice Management. He has authored more than 500 medical publications and has given over 1000 invited presentations.
Dr. Scherger enjoys an active family life with his wife, Carol, and two sons, Adrian and Gabriel. He has completed 40 marathons, ten 50K and five 50 mile ultramarathon trail runs.
K. Douglas Thrasher, DO, is originally from Southern California, attended the University of Redlands and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. As an undergraduate, he established himself as a self-proclaimed “lab rat,” studying the physical properties of a Human Myeloma Immunoglobulin. His postgraduate training took him to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel where he studied with world-renowned structural biologist Dr. Henryk Eisenberg. Here he applied his research skills to study an enzyme from the archaebacteria, Halobacteria maris mortui, found only in the Dead Sea.
He later worked for Beckmann Coulter (formerly Beckmann Instruments), as a research chemist developing prototype analytical instrumentation for the hospital laboratory. In 1983, he co-founded Quantum Diagnostics, Inc. and provided contract product research and development (R&D) services for larger companies wishing to expedite their R&D process. Ultimately, Dr. Thrasher decided to pursue his lifelong desire of becoming a physician. He completed medical school at Western University of Health Sciences (formerly College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific) and residency in Family Medicine at the Shenandoah Valley Family Practice Residency Program —a program sponsored by the Medical College of Virginia.
When asked what his specialty is, he’ll tell you, “its the skin and its contents,” a quote he acquired from his grandfather who was a General Practitioner/Surgeon in Los Angeles for more than 30 years. More specifically, Dr. Thrasher has keen interests in lipidology (the study of cholesterol and its effects on the inside of arteries), diabetes and metabolic syndrome in both children and adults. He is a strong proponent of patient-oriented technologies such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring devices. Board Certified in Family Medicine, he is as comfortable with children as he is with adults and seniors.
Dr Thrasher is a Diplomate of the American Board of Family Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is active in the American Diabetes Association, and the National Lipid Association.
“I consider my role in my patient’s lives as that of consultant, confidant, comforter and mechanic,” says Dr. Thrasher. “In the metaphysical sense, I am personally driven by the philosophy of the French Philosopher and Jesuit Priest, Teilhard de Chardin who said, ‘We are not mortal beings in search of a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a mortal experience.’ It is my job then to help ensure the mortal experience is optimized from a health standpoint so we are not distracted from all we are to gain here.”
Diane Vines, RN, Ph.D., RRT, CNS, PHN, PMH, MEd, is an adjunct faculty member at California State University San Bernardino, after retiring as Dean of Nursing at Mount Saint Mary’s University with over 850 students and serving on the faculty at both the University of Portland and Boston University, and in government and higher education in multiple capacities, including as director and co-founder of the National Adult Literacy Initiative with First Lady Barbara Bush. Previously, Dr. Vines was vice chancellor and board secretary for the Oregon University System, Dean of CSU Dominguez Hills’ School of Health, founder of the Oregon Governor’s Healthcare Workforce Initiative and the Oregon Simulation Alliance, a White House Fellow selected as one of fourteen out of 1200 candidates, executive director and founder of CSU Summer Arts, vice president for the California State University Institute, and special assistant to the U. S. Secretary of Education.Diane is a dedicated researcher with a long track record of meaningful inquiries into subjects ranging from the effectiveness of poverty simulations in changing nursing students’ attitudes towards poverty and the poor, to the effectiveness of treatments for post-trauma survivors, the childrearing practices of prostituted and trafficked women, and father-daughter incest. She has a private counseling practice and author of Angel Walk: Nurses at War in Iraq and Afghanistan. She has been awarded millions of dollars in private and government grants.
Brian Wexler, Ph.D. is a psychologist and core faculty with Eisenhower Health, Family Medicine Residency Program located in Rancho Mirage, CA. His work includes an emphasis on expanding community outreach and developing an integrated model of behavioral health within primary care. As a founding member of the Coachella Valley Street Medicine Outreach Team he has collaborated with other professionals and agencies to develop and establish an active and successful program which provides health care to rough sleepers and homeless in the eastern Coachella Valley. Through his role as a faculty member, Dr. Wexler has integrated Street Medicine outreach as a component of the longitudinal 3 year curriculum for Community Medicine and Behavioral Health with the Eisenhower Family Medicine residents.
Dr. Wexler’s interest in community outreach was deepened by his volunteer experience with the American Red Cross in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, followed by participation with a group of regional specialists in a comprehensive Dental Camp which provided free service in the small town of Barsana, India, in January 2013. His role as a Street Medicine team leader with the Coachella Valley Street Medicine outreach team was sparked by the work of Dr. Wither’s, and after almost 3 years of planning and coordinating services with colleagues and multiple agencies, our team has provided consecutive weekly outings since June 2013.
Jim Withers, M.D. was raised in rural Pennsylvania where he made house calls with his father, a Family Practitioner. Dr. Withers received his undergraduate degree at Haverford College, and completed his medical school training at the University of Pittsburgh in 1984. His interest in service oriented medicine grew through medical trips to Central America and India. After finishing his medicine and chief residencies at The Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, he joined their full-time teaching faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine and holds the position of Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. His areas of special interest have been Domestic Violence, International Medicine and Homeless Health Care. In 1992, he dressed as a homeless person and joined a formerly homeless man to visit the street dwellers of Pittsburgh making "house calls" at night. This led to the founding of Operation Safety Net (OSN), one of the first full time, comprehensive medical services of its’ kind for the unsheltered homeless. Medical care is delivered directly on the streets, along the river banks and in the abandoned buildings of Pittsburgh, with full social service and housing follow-up.
OSN is a unique “classroom of the streets” and serves as a model for reality-based, experiential medical education. It has been recognized internationally and is being replicated or studied by cities throughout the world. In 2005, Dr. Withers established the annual International Street Medicine Symposium (with current partners on six continents) to foster collaboration in the care of those sleeping on the streets. In 2009, Dr. Withers created the Street Medicine Institute to focus on helping communities establish Street Medicine programs, improve existing practice and create a student fellowship in Street Medicine. Dr. Withers enjoys numerous volunteer activities, Board memberships, and medical teaching appointments. He is most proud of the many students who have gone on to careers in service oriented medicine.
Les Zendle, M.D. is a physician trained in Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine. He retired from Kaiser Permanente in 2010 after 31 years as a practicing physician, including 11 years as the Southern California Region Medical Director for Clinical Services. Since then, he has been a volunteer physician at Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine. In 2018, he was elected as a Director of the Desert Healthcare District/Foundation, and has served as its President for the past year.