Seemingly overnight, COVID-19 changed the course of health care permanently.
As the virus ravaged the country in early 2020, communities of color began contracting COVID and dying at faster rates. The pandemic highlighted the disparities these communities were facing in accessing the health care system and resources to help them stay safe and healthy. Community-based organizations stepped up to amplify the message that the pervasive barriers and inequities in our health care industry were leading to less access to the vaccine, resulting in higher positivity and death rates for people of color. The curtain was pulled back and the truth became clear – community-based organizations and public health needed to work together to create a way to ensure health care, and our responses to the virus, were equitable.
Two years later the role of community health centers (CHCs) has become a critical centerpiece in addressing the disparities exacerbated by COVID-19. In partnership with public health departments, CHCs and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) we have been able to extend the reach and impact of our programs, moving beyond the clinic walls and taking care into even more of the community.
As we begin to move into a post-pandemic world, there is more to ask. What do the partnerships formed during the pandemic mean for the health care system today and well into the future? How will the partnerships and collaborations that were established and deepened over the past two years, in the midst of uncertainty, create opportunities and further remove barriers for underserved populations? How will this increased collaboration continue to offer our communities the opportunity to receive high-quality, culturally-appropriate care right where they live, work and gather?
Join us on Thursday, April 21, at 11:30am, when we will welcome Dr. Bechara Choucair to guide us in a discussion on these very questions along with our moderator Carol Cheney, CEO of The Collins Foundation.
Bechara Choucair, MD, is senior vice president and chief health officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Hospitals.
Dr. Choucair oversees the organization’s efforts to address the social health of its 12.5 million members and the 68 million people who live in the communities it serves. This work includes the creation of the nation’s largest social health network, integrated with Kaiser Permanente’s health care services, to meet the housing, food, and transportation needs of its members.
As chief health officer he also is accountable for the care of over 1 million Kaiser Permanente Medicaid members and those dually enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare.
Additionally, Dr. Choucair manages Kaiser Permanente’s community health portfolio, including medical financial assistance and charitable care as well as grants and community health initiatives. He is also responsible for the organization’s environmental stewardship work leading to Kaiser Permanente becoming carbon neutral in 2020.
Dr. Choucair reports directly to Kaiser Permanente’s chair and chief executive officer and is a member of the National Executive Team.
From January through November 2021, Dr. Choucair served as the White House national vaccinations coordinator. In that role he focused on coordinating the timely, safe, and equitable administration of COVID-19 vaccinations for the U.S. population, in close partnership with relevant federal departments and agencies, and state and local authorities, health systems, and community-based organizations. During his tenure as vaccinations coordinator, more than 450 million doses of the vaccine were administered nationwide. He returned to Kaiser Permanente in December 2021.
Carol Cheney, CEO of The Collins Foundation, was adopted with her twin from South Korea and grew up in Maryland and rural Oregon. She has worked as a farmworker, domestic violence advocate, health educator, nonprofit consultant and trainer, and policy and community engagement manager for the OHA Office of Equity and Inclusion.
Prior to coming to The Collins Foundation, Carol served as a program officer, then Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager at Meyer Memorial Trust, leading the organization’s internal work to advance equity. She has served on the boards of Seeding Justice, The Hambleton Project and the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, and is currently a board member of the Pride Foundation and Foundations for a Better Oregon.
Carol is driven by a passion for equity and deep inclusion and a conviction that each of us has a role in creating a just society for everyone.
Tickets for the event this year are free but be sure to let us know you will be joining us so we can keep you updated and provide you with everything you need to get logged in and ready to participate.
Thursday, April 21