CPCAFor much of their history, community clinics and health centers (CCHCs) have been overlooked within the American health care system. A fractured system and competitive environment left the state’s CCHCs without a common mission or goal. In 1994, California’s CCHCs came together to form the California Primary Care Association, coalescing for a common purpose and to have a unified voice in state and federal advocacy. Since 1997, Carmela has dedicated herself to transforming the Association and its members into a health system that is unparalleled for quality of care and patient satisfaction. Today, California’s CCHCs are an indispensable pillar of the state’s overall health care system under federal health care reform.
While much progress has been made since the passage of the ACA, no one understands more clearly than Carmela that health care reform also brought about challenges and opportunities for California’s community health centers. CPCA, under Carmela’s leadership, has been front and center among its many partner organizations in developing, advocating for, and helping to implement the multitude of solutions still required for an equitable, high-quality, and affordable health care system in California. In recent years, Carmela has also lead the charge to position community health centers at the forefront of healthcare delivery transformation in California.
Embarking on a bold and strategic initiative, Carmela has led CPCA and its members in the development and implementation of a branding initiative for community health centers. Launched in 2012, the CaliforniaHealth+ brand has flourished and continues to grow. CaliforniaHealth+ centers are community-based and conveniently located throughout the state, providing culturally-sensitive services aimed at keeping patients healthy. Early partnerships with The California Endowment (TCE) have resulted in national Public Service Announcements, advertisements, and billboards throughout the state. Additionally, the brand has been so successful here, it is now being implemented by health centers in other states including Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska.
Carmela is a co-founder of the California Health Information Partnership and Services Organization (CalHIPSO), a non-profit joint venture between the California Primary Care Association (CPCA), the California Medical Association (CMA), and the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH).
As one of 62 federally designated Regional Extension Centers (REC), CalHIPSO helped providers in California navigate the complicated world of electronic health record (EHR) adoption. CalHIPSO has assisted more than 10,000 providers in adopting EHRs and demonstrating Meaningful Use in order to qualify for federal incentive payments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus program.
CalHIPSO is the largest REC in the country. Serving 56 of California’s 58 counties, CalHIPSO’s market stretches across the state into both urban and rural areas. CalHIPSO works with providers in community clinics, rural hospitals and clinics, small and solo private practices and public hospitals. The path to Meaningful Use is unique to every organization; an organized team of regional and community-based administrative and technical experts are required to meet this challenge. CalHIPSO members have earned more than $100 million in EHR incentive payments.
Carmela served as CalHIPSO Board Chair from its inception in 2010 until 2014. She continues to serve on the Board at present.