Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
Providing high quality health care for those who need it most
“Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage. If you want to attract and retain the best then provide them with encouragement, opportunity and make sure they know they are a critical part of the organization’s mission.”
(adapted from a quote by Anne M. Mulcahy)
Over the past 18-24 months terms like Burnout, The Great Resignation and Quiet Resignation began to take on significant meaning as employers across the country saw their workforce, along with their pool of potential recruits, shrink. No one felt the impact of this more than our health care system. Professionals, most notably nurses and medical assistants, left the industry in large numbers. As a result, health care organizations and companies began offering wages and benefits that smaller organizations cannot compete with. The defection of staff to these lucrative offers resulted in even less access for those already experiencing significant barriers as community health centers struggle to continue providing care while safely staffing their clinics.
Virginia Garcia responded by initiating a robust workforce development program in 2022. The first step was the Maria Loredo Workforce Development program, which provided tuition assistance to 40 staff members, totaling more than $150,000 in support. The program, now in its second year, looks to repeat this in 2023.
We also expanded partnerships with local school districts and community colleges, offering training programs for graduating seniors as well as current Virginia Garcia staff wanting to advance their within our organization. In the first year of the program, we will have engaged with more than 34 high school students and supported 15 staff members in graduating as medical assistants and eight as dental hygienists through our programs. And, these programs will continue to thrive and attract new participants, with 90% of students placed in the program self-identifying as people of color, further ensuring that our staff represents our ever-growing diverse population.
The future of workforce sustainability lies with development programs from within. “Growing your own” ensures that staff not only have the opportunity to grow and advance, but that they remain with your organization. Innovative programs are emerging across the state in medical, dental, pharmaceutical, and mental and behavioral health. This is how, as a health care system, we create a competitive advantage to survive and continue delivering health care to our communities. These programs and efforts are critical in ensuring historically underserved communities continue to have access to the care they need.
Dr. Luis Padilla is the associate administrator for health workforce at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
The Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) aims to better meet the need for a well-trained, well-distributed 21st century workforce by strengthening the health workforce and connecting skilled professionals to communities in need. With an annual appropriation of more than $1.6 billion, the bureau administers more than 50 workforce programs with a staff of more than 450.
BHW improves access to quality health care by developing, distributing, and retaining a diverse and culturally competent health workforce. The bureau supports the health care workforce across the entire education and training to service continuum – from academic training of nurses, physicians, and other clinicians to clinicians currently providing health care in underserved and rural communities across the United States.
Dr. Padilla was appointed associate administrator for the bureau of health workforce in May 2016. He also serves as director of the National Health Service Corps, BHW’s largest program, with a field strength of approximately 13,900 clinicians nationwide.
Prior to joining BHW, Dr. Padilla was senior health policy advisor to the CEO of Unity Health Care in Washington, D.C., a federally qualified health center network with over 100,000 patients. A committed advocate for the underserved, Dr. Padilla is a former NHSC Scholar who completed his service at Unity’s Upper Cardozo Health Center, where he also served as its medical director. He served on the National Advisory Council of the NHSC from 2007 to 2010.
A board certified family physician, Dr. Padilla received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of California at Irvine. He earned his medical degree from Wake Forest School of Medicine and completed his family medicine residency at Brown University.
Yadira Martinez, RDH, EPDH, Dental Therapist, grew up in Hillsboro, Oregon, in a family of migrant farmworkers. She joined Virginia Garcia in 2000 as a dental assistant trainee. After becoming a dental assistant, her drive to advance her knowledge of dental care continued to grow as she graduated at the top of her class from Pacific University’s first dental hygiene class in 2008. In her current role at Virginia Garcia, Yadira oversees the dental hygiene program, which includes dental hygienists at all dental clinics as well as a dental sealant program, primary care embedded dental hygiene models, and activity in the migrant camps. Yadira maintains a clinical practice of dental hygiene in the dental clinics and serves in integrated hygiene roles in the Women’s Clinic (name change!) and the Beaverton Wellness Center primary care clinic, paving the road for integrated care models at Virginia Garcia. Yadira has a passion for public health and brings this commitment and passion to her patients every single day.
Most recently, thanks to a statewide pilot, Yadira became only the ninth licensed member of a new cohort of mid-level dental providers in Oregon – a Dental Therapist. A dental therapist can be thought of as the dental equivalent of a physician assistant. They are licensed to do more than dental hygiene, but not as much as a dentist. Working under the supervision of a dentist, dental therapists provide routine preventive and restorative care such as exams, fillings, and simple extractions.
In 2014, Yadira was selected by the Governor to join the State Board of Dentistry, where she concluded her 8 year appointment serving as President. Yadira’s influence expanded further when she was elected to the Hillsboro School Board in 2018, where she served until 2022. In 2020, she received the John McFarland Leadership Award from the National Network for Oral Health Access (NNOHA) during their virtual 2020 Annual Conference. This award was presented to her with sincere appreciation for her exemplary leadership in promoting oral health, her inspirational leadership during the COVID-19 crisis, her service to her profession and improving the oral health of underserved populations in Oregon.