Leadership | Altamed

Our Leadership

Cástulo de la Rocha

President and CEO

Cástulo de la Rocha

President and CEO

As President and CEO of AltaMed Health Services Corporation, Cástulo de la Rocha is an enduring trailblazer in community health. Under his visionary leadership, AltaMed has transformed from a storefront barrio clinic in East Los Angeles into the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in the nation.

In 1977, Mr. de la Rocha recognized that people in low-income neighborhoods throughout Southern California were significantly underserved by essential health resources—the Barrio Free Clinic in his neighborhood often had a line of people wound around the block. By acknowledging that the health of a neighborhood is tied to its prosperity, he changed the face of one community, then another, until AltaMed became one of the area’s largest health care systems, with approximately 50 medical, dental and Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) sites staffed by 3,200 employees, providing compassionate care to more than 300,000 patients each year.

Mr. de la Rocha’s “whole community” approach to health care has earned him the Leader in Action award from the PRIME Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (2016). In 2017, he was honored alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda with a Medallion of Excellence from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). In 2018, he received the Aaron L. Brown Memorial Public Service Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), and in 2019, he was recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Mr. de la Rocha frequently lends his expertise in aligning best practices in health care, public policy, and social advocacy. He currently serves on the boards of National Medical Fellowships and America’s Physician Groups, and in 2020, joined the Health Tech 4 Medicaid Expert Council.

An avid believer in the healing power of art, Mr. de la Rocha has spent 30 years assembling the AltaMed Art Collection. It champions the works of emerging and established artists who reflect the history, achievements, and struggles of underserved communities, and lives on rotating display across AltaMed’s network. In 2018, Mr. de la Rocha led the launch of Building Bridges: Chicano/Mexican Art from Los Angeles to Mexico, an event spanning nearly two years across seven sites, encompassing an exhibit of Chicano art as well as accompanying panels discussing art’s influence on U.S./Mexico relations. He has been recognized by the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), and is a member of the Getty Pacific Standard Time Business Leaders Council.

Education:

J.D. University of California, Berkeley School of Law
B.A. Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara
Certificate in Management, Stanford University

Zoila D. Escobar

Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, and President of the AltaMed Foundation

Zoila D. Escobar

Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, and President of the AltaMed Foundation

In her role as Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative officer, and President of the AltaMed Foundation, Zoila D. Escobar is dedicated to leveling disparities in health care by combining her own personal insight into the Latino experience with comprehensive care. For more than 35 years, she’s played an instrumental role in community health leadership, spearheading everything from grassroots initiatives to leading major policy changes at national institutions.

At AltaMed, Ms. Escobar oversees several critical administrative areas, including Fund Development, Human Resources, Strategic Management and Analytics, Government Affairs and Civic Engagement, Facilities Development and Management, and Branding and Communications. In this multifaceted, 360° role, she shapes nearly every dimension of the AltaMed experience to ensure that everyone AltaMed serves receives patient-centered care.

Ms. Escobar’s fund development experience dates back to 1984 at the American Cancer Society (ACS), as Director of Development for Special Populations. While at ACS, Ms. Escobar also helped develop national policy in the area of uterine and breast cancer screening, smoking cessation, and HIV/AIDS for Spanish-speaking populations. In addition to leading conferences and fundraising galas, some of Ms. Escobar’s most important contributions include helping change attitudes around philanthropic giving in the Latino community, as well as steering an employee-giving effort to engage 100% of the AltaMed workforce.

Ms. Escobar’s professional accomplishments demonstrate a commitment to forward-thinking advocacy on behalf of underserved populations. She’s had a long and illustrious history focusing on AIDS awareness and prevention, with positions including Program Director of the first Latinas and AIDS Program in Los Angeles County, with AIDS Project Los Angeles; and Clinic Administrator for HIV Services at the UCLA Family Planning Clinic. Ms. Escobar lead the pilot Hemophilia and AIDS program, a joint project between the World Health Organization and World Hemophilia Federation. Ms. Escobar was also involved in policy work that led to the development of the Ryan White Act legislation, and played a role in the inclusion of HIV/AIDS in the American with Disabilities Act legislation. Additionally, she’s served as Director of Education and Government Affairs for the Arthritis Foundation.

Empowerment is one of the pillars of the AltaMed mission, and it’s also the focus of Ms. Escobar’s other professional engagements and memberships. In her role as Treasurer for the American Nurses Foundation Board of Directors, she advocates to advance the careers, well-being, and public image of nurses. As a member of the University of La Verne Board of Trustees, she works to promote equal opportunities for all students. She also serves as a board member for California State University Monterey Bay-External Leadership Council and the NCLR/CSULB Center for Latino Culture and Health. For nearly 15 years, Ms. Escobar was a member of the international Health Initiative of the Americas.

Education:

MBA, University of La Verne
B.S. Health Services Administration, University of La Verne

José U. Esparza

Senior Vice President of Finance & Chief Financial Officer

José U. Esparza

Senior Vice President of Finance & Chief Financial Officer

José U. Esparza serves as Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer for AltaMed, overseeing close to 100 professionals in departments ranging from Finance and Accounting to Government and Risk Management. Both directly and indirectly, he touches nearly every single financial transaction spanning from revenue and accounts receivable to payables, claims and all expenses in addition to AltaMed’s portfolio of investments.

In 1994, Mr. Esparza joined AltaMed, where he has been essential to the system’s success – both by negotiating reimbursement for its major programs and by ensuring day-to-day operational resources are well utilized for the delivery of services. He has maintained a robust fiscal outlook for large scale projects, such as the recent opening of new community health centers in Westlake
and the City of Commerce.

Mr. Esparza plays a strategic role by helping determine corporate direction and leading the implementation of key business plans and initiatives. Thanks to Mr. Esparza’s oversight, one of AltaMed’s biggest successes has been the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Over the years, the organization took well-planned steps to enhance the program, adding even more health care and social services that improve the health of its participants, thereby preventing the need for institutionalization. PACE has since become the most robust program of its kind in Southern California.

Previously, Mr. Esparza held positions in public accounting, where he managed independent audits and issued certified financial statements for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Early in his career, Mr. Esparza worked as a controller at Northeast Valley Health Corporation, one of Los Angeles’ largest Federally Qualified Health Centers. Here he found a sense of professional satisfaction that had been missing from his work in other industries, and he came to personally embrace the mission of eliminating health care disparities. As a Southern California resident who spent the last three decades living in Los Angeles, he has a true affinity for how diverse cultures enrich local communities.

Education:

MBA. University of Phoenix
B.A. Accounting, California State University, Los Angeles

Marie S. Torres, PhD, LCSW

Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Community Research Initiatives

Marie S. Torres, PhD, LCSW

Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Community Research Initiatives

Dr. Marie S. Torres is Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Community Research Initiatives at AltaMed. In this role she oversees advocacy, public policy, and legislative initiatives. Simply put, her job is to protect a patient’s right to access exceptional health care, and strengthen the communities of all those AltaMed serves.

In 1991, Dr. Torres was recruited by AltaMed CEO Cástulo de la Rocha to help establish the health system’s Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).  Mr. de la Rocha was as impressed with her background in social work and gerontology, as he was with her roots in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles. Her own commitment to social justice mirrored that of AltaMed’s, and soon after she joined, she established the Government Relations department.

Dr. Torres has helped AltaMed seamlessly weave social and political advocacy into its business model and its brand. She combines an affinity for grass roots organization with a deep network of political contacts, to help protect policy on matters of equality. Medi-Cal, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and the Affordable Care Act are just a few of the national programs AltaMed has lent its support to, among countless others at the state and local levels.

One of AltaMed’s biggest advocacy successes came with Cal-Learn, a statewide   program providing intensive case management and supportive services to pregnant teens, teen mothers, and their children  to help them graduate from high school or its equivalent, become independent, and form healthy families. Despite the program’s proven track record for fostering self-sufficiency, Cal-Learn was suspended in 2011, and many of the program’s vital resources were eliminated. Working with elected officials and community leaders, Dr. Torres identified the program’s success stories, as well as those who were most vulnerable, and arranged for them to give testimonials at state assembly hearings and conduct legislative visits. Thanks to a concentrated, nine-month campaign, Cal-Learn was fully reinstated.

Most recently, Dr. Torres was integral in launching AltaMed’s My Vote, My Health, Mi Voto, Mi Salud Civic Engagement Initiative, which aims to activate members of under-represented communities in civic matters and social issues and empower them to vote. Health care is at the core of the initiative, but on a broader scale, the program promotes justice, equality, and opportunity.

Dr. Torres’ advocacy extends beyond her work at AltaMed, and her professional efforts have been recognized by organizations at the local, state, and national levels. She was recently honored as Woman of the Year by the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation’s Annual National Latina Women’s Conference. Dr. Torres has also been recognized with the Los Angeles Aging and Advocacy Coalition Champion Award; the 64th Assembly District Women in Leadership Award from Assembly member Mike Gipson; and the Betsey K. Cooke Grassroots Advocacy Most Valuable Player Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers, among many others.

 Dr. Torres is also active in several professional associations including the CalPACE Association, California Primary Care Association, the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers, America’s Physician Groups, the National Association of Community Health Centers and National PACE Association. Her dedication to safe and healthy communities is further evidenced by her volunteer work with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Industry Station Community Advisory Committee and as a Neighborhood Watch Captain.

Education:

M.A. University of Southern California School of Social Work
Ph.D. University of Southern California School of Social Work

Henry A. Holguin

Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Henry A. Holguin

Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Henry A. Holguin serves as AltaMed’s General Counsel. In this position, he advises AltaMed executive leadership on the company’s strategic initiatives and provides legal counsel to the AltaMed Board of Directors. He also oversees the efforts of AltaMed’s outside legal teams. Matters under his purview include health care, corporate governance, real estate, human resources, finance, and compliance.

While Mr. Holguin’s business acumen and experience in health care made him an excellent fit for AltaMed, it’s his personal history that gives him a deeper affinity for the company. Having grown up in East Los Angeles, Mr. Holguin has fond memories of being a teenager, and accompanying his grandmother to the local AltaMed clinic. The fact that his grandmother received personal care, in her own language, and was treated with dignity left a lasting impression on him, and he immediately seized the opportunity to join AltaMed when it arose. A profound respect for the AltaMed mission, as well as Mr. de la Rocha’s leadership and civic engagement, helped close the deal. Like the AltaMed CEO, Mr. Holguin was raised in Chihuahua, MX and later grew up in the same East L.A. neighborhood, so he was keenly aware of how crucial the health system’s work is in the community.

At AltaMed, Mr. Holgiun’s biggest priority is expanding health care access to even more people throughout Southern California—which means removing barriers to care, and growing AltaMed’s lines of services. He’s been instrumental in the development of innovative programs that put comprehensive medical services within reach of traditionally overlooked communities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Mr. Holguin’s experience with a broad array of industries and clients helped him develop the business savvy that is such a significant asset for AltaMed. He spent 23 years as the founding partner of Miller & Holguin, a law firm dealing with corporate transactions, mergers & acquisitions, business, health care, and real estate matters. After this firm merged with a larger legal practice, Mr. Holguin joined Kelly, Lytton & Williams, LLP, a boutique law firm dealing with business, health care, real estate, land use, and governmental relations. He has been a member of the State Bar of California since 1976, and is admitted to practice before the United States Central District Court of California and the United States Tax Court.

Since 2007, Mr. Holguin has served on the Board of Trustees of the AltaMed Foundation, the health system’s fundraising arm that annually procures between $40-$46 million in donations and grants. In 2008, Hispanic Business magazine named him one of the 40 Most Influential Hispanics in Los Angeles, and one of the 100 most Influential Hispanics in the United States.

Education:

J.D. University of California at Davis
B.S. Business Administration, University of Southern California
Certificate in International Economics, Cambridge University, England

 

Robert Gomez

Vice President of Business Development

Robert Gomez

Vice President of Business Development

Robert Gomez is AltaMed’s Vice President of Business Development. He plays an integral role in the health system’s capacity to grow and better serve the needs not only of its patients, but its employees and the greater community. 

Since joining AltaMed in 2007, he has helped facilitate mergers and acquisitions that doubled the number of managed care enrollees the health system serves. In this same time period, AltaMed has grown in size to 39 accredited sites, eight full-service PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) locations, and more than 150 affiliated locations. 

Prior to joining AltaMed, Mr. Gomez served as Chief Executive Officer for El Rio Health Center in Tucson, Arizona. During his 20 year tenure, he helped to build it into a nationally recognized Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). Before this, he served as a senior consultant for Medicus Systems, a national health care consulting and software products company.

During his long career in health care, he has held leadership roles at the state and national levels, including serving on the Board of Directors and President of the National Association of Community Health Centers.

Education:

B.A. History, Texas A&I University

Anna Tran

Senior Strategy Executive

Anna Tran

Senior Strategy Executive

Ms. Anna Tran joined AltaMed’s senior leadership team in 2017 as Senior Strategy Executive. She oversees AltaMed’s Managed Care as well as the Sales and Marketing team, focusing on membership growth. She also supports our President & CEO in planning the long-term strategic growth of the organization.

Ms. Tran comes to AltaMed with an extensive history in health care leadership. While she previously served as CFO at Pacific Alliance Medical Center, she later spent a total of 18 years on the leadership team of Care1st, where she held the roles of CFO, COO, CEO, President, and Strategic Advisor, eventually facilitating the sale of Care1st and the transition of more than 500,000 members to Blue Shield of California. From 2011 to 2014, Ms. Tran was a member of AltaMed’s Board of Trustees.

Education:

M.S. Accounting, California State University, Los Angeles
B.S. Biology, California State University, Los Angeles

Mary Ann Barnes

Executive Vice President & Chief Operations Officer

Mary Ann Barnes

Executive Vice President & Chief Operations Officer

Ms. Mary Ann Barnes is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of AltaMed Health Services Corporation. In this role, she touches nearly every aspect of day-to-day care, and helps shape the AltaMed experience across the entire health care delivery system — patients, physicians and care practitioners, and employees.

Ms. Barnes joined AltaMed in 2017 and oversees the health care system. Services under her purview include Senior Care Services (including eight PACE sites and the MSSP/SSP grant programs), Health Care Services (including 30 clinics), Information Technology Services, Operational Excellence, Pharmacy, Aging Services, and Contracted Providers network management.

Having started her career as a nurse, Ms. Barnes has always been focused on seeing things from the patient’s perspective—to ensure they experience the best possible care. This persistent belief in always making a bigger difference in the lives of patients is what fueled Ms. Barnes’ rise and 36-year tenure at health giant Kaiser Permanente. From her start as an ICU nurse on the nightshift in San Diego, to growing Kaiser Permanente San Diego membership by 528,000, and then being instrumental in the planning of a new $900 million tertiary hospital, she has earned a profound 360-degree insight into the relationship between the health of individuals and their community.

As the President of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Hawaii Region, one of Ms. Barnes’ biggest challenges was taking a large, state-owned hospital system and working with government officials and existing staff to turn the system into true private community hospitals for Maui County. Over the course of this complex initiative, she demonstrated prowess in strategic business planning, clinical and financial operations, government and community relations, and organizational development.

While serving as President of Kaiser Permanente’s Hawaii region, Ms. Barnes served on the Board of Directors for the American Heart Association (Western States Affiliate, Hawaii Division), Healthcare Association of Hawaii, and Catholic Charities Hawaii. Prior, she also served on the Board of Trustees for the California Hospital Association, and as President of Board of Directors for the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial counties.

Ms. Barnes has a deep affinity for Southern California, where she has worked for more than 30 years. An additional point of pride for Ms. Barnes is having spent her entire career working with nonprofits and organizations with bona fide records of improving access, affordability, and outcomes for their service communities.

Education:

M.S. Nursing, California State University, San Diego
B.S. Nursing, Arizona State University
Executive Leadership Program, Harvard Business School
Executive Leadership Program, Stanford University

Frederick D. Knight, MBA, CHC, CCEP

Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer

Frederick D. Knight, MBA, CHC, CCEP

Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer

Frederick D. Knight joined AltaMed in June 2019 as Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer. In this capacity, Mr. Knight is responsible for AltaMed’s Compliance, Risk Management, and Privacy operations and is tasked with leading an enterprise-wide risk management strategy, including audits, regulatory challenges, and growth opportunities. With nearly 30 years of experience, Mr. Knight is a compliance and regulatory leader experienced in developing and executing sustainable compliance programs through advanced education, robust reporting, and risk management. He is dedicated to creating the next generation of ethics and compliance programs by driving transparency, quality, and accountability.

Prior to joining AltaMed, Mr. Knight served as Vice President, Compliance, Ethics & Legal for Centene Corporation in Dallas, Texas. There, he was responsible for providing oversight in reviewing, recommending, continually enhancing, and implementing changes to Centene’s ethics and compliance program in accordance with applicable laws and regulations for their Commercial, Behavioral Health, Digital Health, Disease Management, Nurse Triage, and Employee Assistance Program. Mr. Knight also spent several years with the McKesson Corporation in Jacksonville, Florida, as their Senior Director of Ethics and Compliance where he was responsible for the overall development and implementation of the organization’s corporate compliance program for their 9,000 employees.

Mr. Knight is affiliated with several professional and philanthropic organizations, including serving as past Board Members for the Dallas Federal Credit Union and the Centene Political Action Committee, and as an Advisory Board Member for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Collin County. He is also a published author in the Journal for Health Care Compliance.

Education:

MBA, Health Care Administration, Jacksonville University
B.S. Finance, Alabama A&M University
Executive Certificate — Transformational Leadership, Georgetown University

 

Raymond Lowe

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Raymond Lowe

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Raymond Lowe joined AltaMed Health Services in January 2018 as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer. He is an accomplished healthcare Information Systems (IS) & Information Technology (IT) executive with extensive experience in complex system delivery and operations. At AltaMed, he is responsible for all aspects of IS and IT for the organization, including strategy, innovation, delivery, operations, cybersecurity, data reporting, health plan and clinical applications, and merger and acquisition activities.

Among his many accomplishments at AltaMed, Mr. Lowe has been integral in the organization’s clinical systems transformation from the legacy system to EPIC, implementing the new Electronic Medical Record (EMR) platform system-wide, while meeting strict timeline and budgetary parameters. He also spearheaded the establishment of foundational infrastructure, cybersecurity enhancements, and application stabilization required to support the enterprise organization.

Prior to joining AltaMed, Mr. Lowe spent several years with Dignity Health as their Senior Director of Technology and Infrastructure. There he was responsible for the strategic design and delivery of IT transformation and optimization, including their Data Center, Network Consolidation, Unified Communication, and application rationalization. He also served as the Senior Director of Clinical Applications and Implementations for the Cerner EMR at seven Dignity Health hospitals.

Mr. Lowe has more than 20 years of knowledge and experience in healthcare IS/IT leadership including roles with Providence Health Services’ California Region and as Chief Information Officer for Kaiser Permanente Information Technology – Los Angeles Metro Area. Throughout his career, Mr. Lowe has been recognized with such distinguished honors as Becker’s 100 Top CIOs to Watch in 2019 and 2020, and BT150’s Most Transformational Leaders in 2019 among other noted recognitions.

Education:

M.S. Engineering Management, University of Southern California
B.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California

Efrain Talamantes, MD, MBA, MSc

Chief Operating Officer

Efrain Talamantes, MD, MBA, MSc

Chief Operating Officer

In July 2020, Dr. Efrain Talamantes was named Chief Operating Officer of Health Services at AltaMed. For the two years prior, he served as Medical Director for the AltaMed Institute for Health Equity (AIHE) and Medical Education, leading health services and community-partnered research and training to advance health equity and medical education at AltaMed. Under  Dr.  Talamantes’  leadership,  the  Institute  received  Patient  Centered  Outcomes Research funding, enabling a community partnership that has informed AltaMed’s research priorities. Dr. Talamantes also serves as the inaugural Designated Institutional Officer (DIO) for  the  AltaMed  Graduate  Medical  Education  Committee  and  as  a  member  of  AltaMed’s  Executive Governance Leadership Committee.

Dr. Talamantes has been critical in re-designing all of AltaMed’s Medical Education programs, including   the   Health   Resource   Services   Administration   Health   Careers   Opportunity   Program.  As  DIO,  he  led  the  application  process  for  Accreditation  Council  for  Graduate  Medical  Education (ACGME) accreditation.  He  is  also  involved  in  curriculum  design  and  faculty training for AltaMed’s Family Medicine Residency Program. In addition, he is focused on developing methods to best support evidence-based practice, including the use of an electronic medical records system (Epic) implemented in 2019. Dr. Talamantes, the Institute, and AltaMed’s Medical Education teams are dedicated to creating various provider training tools, workshops, and modules to eliminate health disparities.

Dr. Talamantes previously served as Associate Director for the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health  Disparities  and  Associate  Program  Director  for  the Internal  Medicine  Residency  Program.  He  also  co-directed  the  Center  for  a  Diverse  Healthcare  Workforce  (CDHW),  is  the  co-founder  of MiMentor.org,  and  leads  initiatives  throughout  the  country  to  enhance  leadership and diversity in the health care workforce.

Education:

MSc. UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
M.D. David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles
Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Fellowship, University of California, Los Angeles
MBA. Emory University Goizueta Business School
B.S. Psychobiology, University of California, Los Angeles

Veronica Gomez

Vice President, Human Resources

Veronica Gomez

Vice President, Human Resources

Veronica Gomez was named Vice President of Human Resources for AltaMed Health Services in September 2020. She is a skillful leader with more than 25 years of human resources experience leading both national and international organizations of up to 45,000 employees.

At AltaMed, her responsibilities will include developing key strategies for growth, retention, talent acquisition, policy development, and culture change. Ms. Gomez’s areas of expertise include establishing the overall human resources structure and strategies for organizations, including strategic planning and analysis, budget development, education and training, and benefits. She is Six Sigma certified and a Senior Professional in Human Resources® from the HR Certification Institute® demonstrating her mastery of the strategic and policy- making aspects of human resources management. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in business administration.

Prior to this role, Ms. Gomez served as the Chief of Staff to Zoila D. Escobar, AltaMed Chief Administrative Officer. In this capacity, Ms. Gomez was instrumental in overseeing multiple administrative programs and projects to help further develop and enhance AltaMed’s work and business strategies.

Before joining AltaMed, Ms. Gomez served in multiple administrative and leadership roles at various companies and organizations, most recently as Vice President of Human Resources for True Fresh, HPP and True Food Innovations in Buena Park, California, where she organized, developed and implemented all aspects of the human resource department for both entities. She was instrumental in recruiting for the organizations, establishing training programs for staff and leaders, as well as formalizing benefit enrollment and workers compensation programs.

Throughout her extensive and considerable career, Ms. Gomez has maintained various roles and tasks associated with the growth and development of human resources departments for both national and international companies. Her strengths and accomplishments include recruitment efforts across the United States and abroad; developing and implementing global change initiatives to drive business alignment; implementing key performance indicators for leadership development programs; establishing education and training initiatives and programs; benefits administration; and improvement of employee satisfaction by developing cohesive company culture programs and standards.

Education:

B.S. Experimental Psychology, University of California, San Diego
Executive Leadership Certification, Center for Creative Leadership Human Resource Management, University of California, Los Angeles

Our Medical Leadership

Cristian Rico, MD

Vice President of Medical Groups

Cristian Rico, MD

Vice President of Medical Groups

In July 2020, Dr. Cristian Rico was named Chief Medical Officer of Health Services at AltaMed. In this role, he oversees AltaMed’s medical leadership, encompassing areas as telehealth, women’s health, quality and population health, and complex care. Dr. Rico previously served as AltaMed’s Vice President of Medical Groups, overseeing the recruitment and performance of providers at all primary clinics, dental services, and HIV services. Dr. Rico also serves as an AltaMed media spokesperson, often offering subject matter expertise on a variety of topics, including the Affordable Care Act, culturally competent care, medically underserved areas and community needs. He joined AltaMed’s Executive Governance Leadership Committee in August 2019.

A native of Southern California, Dr. Rico has dedicated his career to the underserved communities of East Los Angeles by improving quality, patient experience and satisfaction, and access to care. He joined AltaMed Health Services as a staff physician in 2004, served as Medical Director for AltaMed Medical and Dental Group — El Monte from 2005 to 2010, and served as Regional Medical Director (RMD) for Los Angeles County from 2010 to 2015.

As an RMD, Dr. Rico’s first task was to improve medical provider recruitment. He was able to create an efficient and sustainable process to recruit competent providers with desirable attributes, and identify emerging leaders who have gone on to become medical and regional medical directors. He has also worked with several medical, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant schools to provide students with firsthand experience in community medicine at AltaMed.

Education:

M.D., Charles R. Drew/UCLA School of Medicine 
B.S., Biology, University of California, Riverside

Melanie Lin, MD, CPC

Medical Director, Integrated Clinical Services

Melanie Lin, MD, CPC

Medical Director, Integrated Clinical Services

Melanie Lin, M.D., CPC, is a board-certified internist and Certified Professional Coder currently serving as AltaMed’s Medical Director of Integrated Clinical Services. In this capacity, Dr. Lin oversees the organization’s Dental, Behavioral Health, and Health Education and Wellness departments, as well as its radiology and laboratory programs.

Prior to joining AltaMed in 2019, Dr. Lin worked with DaVita HealthCare Partners in multiple capacities, including as the Department Chair of Quality Improvement, where she maintained oversight of the quality committee for the Orange County region, and managed quarterly metric-driven projects.

In her many leadership roles with DaVita, Dr. Lin provided clinical and operational oversight of multiple sites, such as primary care centers, urgent care centers, and specialty programs. She was also a lead clinical chart reviewer for evaluation of quality and compliance and provided individualized physician training on documentation and coding guidelines.

Dr. Lin also worked as a hospitalist at Kaiser Permanente, where she provided medical care in an inpatient setting and supervised family medicine residents. She has received multiple honors, and has been named one of Orange County’s Best Doctors by the Orange County Medical Association for five consecutive years.

 

Education:

M.D., Tufts University    
Residency, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center        
B.S., Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles

Sandra Pisano, PsyD

Director, Behavioral Health

Sandra Pisano, PsyD

Director, Behavioral Health

Dr. Sandra Pisano is a bilingual Clinical Health Psychologist, and is currently the Director of Behavioral Health at AltaMed Health Services, a department she co-founded in 2012.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Pisano has worked with several health care organizations, specialty clinics, and family residency programs. She specializes in integrating behavioral health services into primary care. Her career has been dedicated to working in culturally diverse and underserved communities. Prior to joining AltaMed, Dr. Pisano founded and served as Clinical Director for Health Psychology Medicine, Inc., a practice located on the campus of St. Mary Medical Center. She also served as a clinical psychologist with the Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center and the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center. Dr. Pisano has also appeared in more than 150 media spots and talk shows, speaking to areas like stress management, anxiety, depression, self-care, and trauma.

Currently, Dr. Pisano is collaborating with AltaMed’s physician wellness program on practitioner self-care and resilience. She uses an interdisciplinary approach to train medical staff on mental health issues, and strives to help patients implement healthy lifestyle changes to prevent or manage chronic medical conditions by teaching about the importance of the mind-body connection.

Education:

PsyD, Clinical Psychology (Emphasis in Health Psychology), California School of Professional Psychology
M.S., Clinical Psychology (Emphasis in Health Psychology), California School of Professional Psychology
B.A., Psychology, Whittier College

Rosa E. Arzu, DDS

Director Dental Services

Rosa E. Arzu, DDS

Director Dental Services

Rosa E. Arzu, DDS, joined AltaMed Health Services in 2008. One year later, she was promoted to Director of Dental Services, a role through which she created programs like the Oral Health Unit, which provides oral health education, preventive screenings, and referrals where needed to prevent early childhood caries. This program is available at AltaMed’s medical sites and throughout the community.

In addition to her duties at AltaMed, Dr. Arzu currently serves as the Chair for the Coordinated Care Workgroup of the Community Oral Health Improvement Plan (COHIP) for Los Angeles County. The COHIP is a five-year strategic plan to address the oral health priorities of our diverse community, led by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LAC DPH) and Oral Health Program (OHP).

Dr. Arzu has also served as Chair for the Dental Director Roundtable Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, and the Dental Director Peer Network-California Primary Care Association. In addition, she completed leadership training at the University of California, San Francisco in 2016 and at King’s College London (through the Harvard School of Dental Medicine) in 2018. 

Originally from Portsmouth, Virginia, Dr. Arzu was raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where her family moved when she was six years old. In 2003, she moved to California, received her California Dental Board Certification, and began her practice in both the private and managed care sectors.

Education:

DDS, Francisco Marroquín University   
Certification, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, AltaMed Health Services   
Certification, Quality Assurance Consultant, California Association of Dental Plans

Sherrill Brown, MD

Medical Director, Infection Prevention

Sherrill Brown, MD

Medical Director, Infection Prevention

Dr. Sherrill Brown joined AltaMed Health Services in 2018, as Site Medical Director of AltaMed Medical Group – Pico Rivera, Passons. Since 2020, she has served as AltaMed’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention, spearheading the organization’s response to COVID-19, keeping AltaMed’s team apprised of guidelines tied to testing, treating, and preventing the spread of the virus.

Prior to joining AltaMed, she served as an Infectious Disease Specialist at UC Davis Medical Center, focusing on Infection Prevention and Antibiotic Stewardship. Through a partnership with UC Davis, she also worked at One Community Health, a federally qualified health center in Sacramento which specializes in serving patients with HIV and substance abuse disorders. Dr. Brown has also worked with the Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center, specializing in the areas of Infectious Disease, Infection Prevention, and Antibiotic Stewardship.

Dr. Brown completed medical school at New York Medical College, her residency at UC Davis Medical Center, and her Infectious Disease Fellowship at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center Multicampus Program. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases.

Since 2012, Dr. Brown has been a member of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), as well as the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA). From 2013 to 2016, she was a member of the Los Angeles County Medical Association (LACMA) Women Physician Action Committee. Since 2017, she has served on a number of committees and co-lead workgroups affiliated with UC Davis Medical Center.

Education:

M.D., New York Medical College
Residency, University of California, Davis
B.S., Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, University of California, Davis

Faustina Nevarez, MD

Medical Director, Women’s Health

Faustina Nevarez, MD

Medical Director, Women’s Health

Dr. Faustina Nevarez is the Medical Director of Women’s Health at AltaMed, and provides oversight to areas including AltaMed’s California Prenatal Screening Program and quality measures tied to women’s health services. She has also helped guide the development and implementation of AltaMed’s quality guidelines.  
With her guidance, AltaMed has developed a Pap registry for cervical screenings, to track and follow up on abnormal Pap results, as well as a mammography registry, for the tracking and follow-up of abnormal mammograms. Dr. Nevarez has also worked as part of a team to initiate an appropriate response to COVID-19.  Her greatest goal is to ensure that AltaMed provides complete health services to all female patients, encompassing appropriate, comfortable, safe, and convenient care. 
Dr. Nevarez came to AltaMed with a wealth of experience, having served as Chief of OB/GYN at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. She was also the Coordinating Chief of OB/GYN for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, and on the Southern California Board of Directors during her more than 35 years as a physician partner. Dr. Nevarez valued her time on the National Board of Directors for Diversity and Culturally Competent Care for Kaiser’s health plan. 
After completing her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, Dr. Nevarez remained on staff and taught in the OB/GYN residency program until joining AltaMed. She is a board certified OB/GYN and has an active medical license in the state of California.

Education:

M.D., University of California, San Francisco
Residency, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center
B.S., Animal Physiology, University of California at Davis

Ravi Kavasery, MD

Medical Director, Quality and Population Health

Ravi Kavasery, MD

Medical Director, Quality and Population Health

Ravi Kavasery, M.D., is Medical Director of Quality and Population Health for AltaMed Health Services. An experienced physician leader in primary care delivery systems, Dr. Kavasery leads a team dedicated to health system improvement, patient safety, population health analytics, and ambulatory care redesign. He is a board certified internist and practices primary care at AltaMed Medical and Dental Group – South Gate, which is also the training site for AltaMed’s Family Medicine Residency Program. 

Prior to joining AltaMed, Dr. Kavasery was Medical Director of Clinical Development and Performance for Iora Health, an innovative primary care group renowned for its leadership and transformation in reducing hospitalizations, saving health care costs, and improving the patient experience. As one of the earliest physicians to join Iora Health, Dr. Kavasery led a multi-disciplinary team in the development and implementation of the organization’s expansion across seven states while garnering national recognition for its primary care model. 

Dr. Kavasery is an associate faculty member with the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as well as an associate faculty member with Ariadne Labs, a joint-center for health systems innovation founded by Dr. Atul Gawande between Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Kavasery is a published author of both peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed publications, and has been invited as a guest lecturer and presenter throughout the country. 

During his clinical training, Dr. Kavasery has worked with Partners in Health in Rwanda and Malawi. He has also done clinical work in Uganda, the Navajo Nation, South Korea, Malaysia, and Argentina. Dr. Kavasery has received multiple teaching awards from the Harvard Medical School Academy for Teaching and Learning. Prior to medical school, he was named a Henry Luce Foundation Scholar.  

Education:

M.D. Yale University, Yale School of Medicine 
Residency Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School 
Post-Doctoral Training, Institute of Healthcare Improvement Chief Quality Officer Professional Development Program
B.S. Electrical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University