Each year OPCA takes pride in honoring the individuals and organizations of the community health center community who do outstanding work to provide quality health and health care services for people experiencing poverty and marginalization in Oregon. Winners were selected by the OPCA Board’s Bylaws & Nominating Committee.
Congratulations to the following individuals who took home a 2018-19 OPCA Award of Excellence, which were presented at OPCA’s Annual Meeting on May 17, 2019, in Portland. Click here for the Press Release.
Serena Cruz, Virginia Garcia
Serena Cruz, Executive Director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation, was nominated for her work creating a level playing field for all members of the community. Under her leadership, the Virginia Garcia board and staff have taken on issues such as affordable housing, health care for all, racial profiling, and immigration rights. Programmatic highlights include hiring Virginia Garcia’s first Policy and Advocacy Officer and the launch of the Reach, Inspire, Support, Engage (RISE) program to support Virginia Garcia employees in connecting with local advocates, community organizations, and local government. Cruz has also grown the foundation’s fundraising budget to $2 million annually, leading a team of 10 women who take an innovative approach to fundraising, advocacy, and equity. Cruz’s fire for equality and access extend to her personal life, where she and her 12-year-old daughter can often be found going door to door, putting up yard signs, and speaking with community members about issues like immigration rights, affordable housing, and women’s rights.
Denise Weiss, Rinehart Clinic
Denise Weiss, Quality Director at Rinehart Clinic, was nominated for fostering a clinic culture focused on improving patient care. Weiss’ dedication to improving the patient experience is evident in her approach to co-facilitating Rinehart Clinic’s Patient Advisory Council. Weiss uses a structured process to gather input and formulate an action plan, and always circles back with updates to let council members know their feedback is valued and making a difference. Council guidance has led to measurable improvements in the clinic’s patient wait times, phone system, and intake/discharge process. She also spearheads numerous quality improvement initiatives that range from diabetes control to development of one of Tillamook County’s Medication Assisted Treatment programs to treat opioid use disorder. These and other programs have shown dramatic improvements, leading to invitations to Weiss and her team members to present at multiple regional conferences. Coworkers describe the secret to her success as a passionate approach that inspires improvements and champions the entire team’s successes.
Health Equity Award
Angelica J Godinez Garcia and Sara Todd, Rinehart Clinic
Angelica J Godinez Garcia, Promotora y Navegadora de Inscripción (Outreach & Enrollment Navigator), and Sara Todd, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, both of Rinehart Clinic, were nominated for their work championing quality health care for all in their community. Together, they are nurturing organizational change that addresses the subtle and overt ways systems of oppression and trauma present themselves in health care settings—even in clinics where the whole team has the intention to provide compassionate and equitable health care. This includes putting on a day-long training that helped staff experience the need to improve cultural sensitivity in the clinic’s daily operations, and an interactive training on medical interpretation processes that made clear the challenges faced by patients with limited English proficiency. Godinez and Todd have sparked conversations about clinic-wide changes, from bilingual health education classes to Latinx patient representation on the Board of Directors and Patient Advisory Council. Through their ongoing efforts to keep health equity front and center, the entire team is learning to recognize their blind spots and opportunities for growth. “Angelica and Sara’s dedicated leadership and commitment have more than inspired their fellow staff members; the entire team is on board and looking to them as leaders in this important change,” says Leigh Ann Hoffhines, Communications Manager.
Health Equity Award
Heather Diaz, MD, Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic's Lancaster Family Health Center
Heather Diaz, MD, Clinic Medical Director at Yakima Valley Farm Worker Clinic’s Lancaster Family Health Center, was nominated for her work stewarding rapid growth at a new community health center in Salem, OR. She has mentored new providers and Nurse Practitioner residents as the clinic grows from 6 providers to 13, along with 2 Nurse Practitioner residents. She has also worked to establish new programs to help the community’s most vulnerable patients, including the Transgender Clinic, Centering Pregnancy and Centering Parenting Program, and Pediatric Obesity Class. Throughout, she has provided excellent care for patients and helps the entire team keep perspective on what is most important in the clinic—patient care. “Her commitment to the underserved and those without a voice is commendable, and collectively, we could not ask for a better clinician, medical director, colleague, and friend. Dr. Heather Diaz embodies exactly what any clinic would want in a health care provider,” says Clinic Manager Morgan Wharton.
Innovation & Leadership in Transformation Award
Ed Smith-Burns and Elise Travertini, La Clinica
Ed Smith-Burns, Outreach Director, and Elise Travertini, School-Based Health Center Director, were nominated for their contributions to expanding the access of children in Jackson County to medical, dental, and mental health care. The partnerships they’ve nurtured have led to the opening of new school-based health centers, including in schools where 100% of students qualify for free and reduced lunches. They have also developed innovative projects, including a mindfulness program for local elementary schools that teaches students to recognize and manage emotions, and a teacher training program to lead students in mindfulness techniques. Through careful planning and management, they have placed La Clinica’s school-based health centers on better financial footing than in any other recent year, critical for continuing these centers’ impact on children’s lives. “Elise and Ed are exemplary, committed leaders who push themselves and their staffs to excellence in all they do and who have shown that their approach leads to programmatic success and ultimately more opportunities for Oregon’s children to get the care they need,” says CEO Brenda Johnson.
Innovation & Leadership in Transformation Award
Fred Dolgin, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
Fred Dolgin, Deputy Chief of Operations of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, was nominated for his work strengthening clinical and administrative operations across the organization. Dolgin has overseen numerous initiatives, including creation of a video remote interpreting project that now reaches more than 45,000 patients speaking 62 languages. He has collaborated on an Advanced Access Boot Camp training program, Key Performance Metric dashboard with drill down capabilities to the care team level, and leadership playbook for incoming leaders, among other projects. He also initiated a large reorganization that restructured the site leadership model and hired 23 new leaders focused on care team improvement and supervision. In four years Dolgin has moved from Clinic Operations Manager to Deputy Chief of Operations, and he leads site leadership teams that oversee six primary care clinics, three mental health reverse integration sites, and a women’s health center.