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July Board of Trustees Meeting Features Special Guest Speakers

By Elevate Health

July Board of Trustees Meeting Features Special Guest Speakers

The Elevate Health Board of Trustees welcomed guest speakers Sue Birch, director of the Health Care Authority (HCA); and James A. Diegel, FACHE, chief executive officer of Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. The two spoke to a packed house July 17.

Birch congratulated Elevate health on its efforts. “You can’t take coverage and access for granted in this climate,” she says. “Our vision is a healthier state with maximum health for all people at every life stage.” She described the role of the Accountable Communities of Care as empowering the community to be part of the system and look at using health care dollars differently to promote health and well-being. “Thank you for laying such a great base,” she says.

Birch joined the HCA on January 1, 2018. Previously, she spent nearly seven years as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, where she led the state’s successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act. A nurse by training, Sue also served as chief executive officer of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

Diegel has extensive experience with collaborative efforts similar to Elevate Health. He served as a leader in the Oregon Medicaid Transformation Waiver Project. As a strong supporter of hospital-led community collaboration, Diegel led the charge to unite Central Oregon’s four hospitals into a single health system and laid the foundation for a truly integrated network of hospitals and clinics focused on improving community health and patient care while reducing cost.

For a good deal of his career, Diegel has advocated for equity and reducing health disparities. He offered advice to the Board as they face similar issues of equity. “We need to co-create and well-being with community. It’s not the responsibility of the federal or state government.” he says. “It’s a collective responsibility.”

He commended Elevate Health for serving as a neutral convener. “Elevate Health can do it because it doesn’t have baggage. That’s the opportunity you have to be a catalyst for change, build trust and support learning.”

Both speakers reminded those in attendance that this work is neither easy nor quick. “It will be a marathon, not a sprint,” Diegel says.

Diegel was also the featured speaker at a public event hosted by Elevate Health the previous night. He spoke to an audience of community members about Transformation: Lessons Learned, Community Collaborative, and Equity & Health Disparities.

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