Desert Care Network

Linda Evans, Lisa Wilson, and Cathy O’Callaghan: Vision 2018

Chief Strategy Officers, Desert Care Network.

Joan McKenna Vision

Desert Care Network
Linda Evans, Lisa Wilson, and Cathy O'Callaghan.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ETHAN KAMINSKY
Linda Evans, Lisa Wilson, and Cathy O’Callaghan

Chief Strategy Officers, Desert Care Network

Wielding almost a century of combined expertise, Desert Care Network Chief Strategy Officers Linda Evans, Lisa Wilson, and Cathy O’Callaghan are transforming the way the Coachella Valley delivers healthcare.

They are leaders in the new Desert Care Network, which provides healthcare to the Coachella Valley and Morongo Basin with three acute care hospitals — Desert Regional Medical Center, JFK Memorial Hospital, and Hi-Desert Medical Center — plus urgent care and ambulatory surgery centers and primary and specialty clinics.

“The purpose of Desert Care Network is to keep care local,” says Wilson, a veteran of six Tenet Healthcare Corp. hospitals who is focusing on access to care in the East Valley and spearheading cardiovascular and stroke services at JFK Memorial Hospital. “We are establishing a network of primary care and specialty care clinics at strategic locations throughout the Coachella Valley. People don’t have to leave to get care.”

The network also includes a Comprehensive Cancer Center, with locations in Palm Springs and La Quinta, the region’s only trauma center, a neonatal intensive care unit, and a comprehensive interventional stroke center. A sub-acute facility in the High Desert offers care and rehabilitation in a nursing home setting, and two new Medpost Urgent Care centers in Palm Desert and North Indio have joined the one in La Quinta.

As Chief Strategy Officer of Community Advocacy, Evans drives initiatives with partners in the Coachella Valley and High Desert. “It’s a perfect collaboration,” says Evans, who’s also the mayor of La Quinta. “In the Coachella Valley, we regionalize tourism and hospitality, economic development, and transportation. This is another expansion opportunity.”

With the region’s steady growth comes the need for more health professionals. That’s where Cathy O’Callaghan comes in. A longtime registered nurse, legal consultant, and product developer, O’Callaghan directs physician recruitment and retention as Chief Strategy Officer for Desert Regional and Hi-Desert medical centers.

“We are aware of the shortfall we have in providers, particularly in primary care,” O’Callaghan says. Over the last couple of years, they have attracted 75 new primary and specialty care doctors, and “we’re also growing our own providers in concert with Desert Healthcare District and the UC Riverside School of Medicine  Family Medicine Residency Program.”

With almost 8,000 high-paying new healthcare jobs between 2007 and 2016, according to the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, the industry has a bright future. “The days when a physician relocates to the area to work for one acute care hospital and starts his or her own private practice are behind us,” O’Callaghan says. “What’s attractive to physicians is that we have three acute care hospitals, primary and specialty care clinics, and urgent care centers to support their practice.”

Wilson also recruits family practice and internal medicine physicians, as well as obstetricians, gynecologists, and pediatricians to address the East Valley‘s shortfall of 84 primary care doctors.

“The outlook for jobs in the industry continues to be strong,” Wilson says. “The jobs of the future will be those that are closest to the patients — nurses, therapists, technologists. We will need more workers in these high-touch jobs to provide the care we need as we age.”

As major employers in the region (with more than 3,300 people valleywide), the hospitals are deeply involved in economic development and philanthropy. “We donate to many nonprofits,” Evans says, “including Desert AIDS Project, Mizell Senior Center, Volunteers in Medicine, all of the chambers, and other health-related organizations that positively impact
our community.”

VIDEO: Linda Evans explains the makeup of the Desert Care Network.

VIDEO: Lisa Wilson speaks about a new program coming to JFK Memorial Hospital, stroke services.

VIDEO: Cathy O’Callaghan speaks about recruiting new physicians to the desert.