Most people can't have their cake and eat it, too, but don't tell Carmela Castellano-Garcia, a Hispanic Business 2007 Woman of the Year award finalist.
As CEO for the past 10 years of California Primary Care Association (CPCA), an organization of more than 600 nonprofit health care clinics, Ms. Castellano-Garcia has long balanced full plates of work and home responsibilities.
During her term at CPCA, both revenue and the number of patients served at community health centers has increased by more than a third.
Along with her position as CEO, she currently sits on the board of directors for the Chicana/Latina Foundation, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, and Capital Link and is a member of the Prevention and Early Intervention Committee of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.
As a representative of California's community clinics and health centers, which serve 3.5 million patients a year – half of them Hispanic – Ms. Castellano-Garcia advocates in Sacramento on behalf of access for the low-income community. Her health care goals include ensuring cultural and linguistic competency, the viability of safety net providers, and reform that allows access to vulnerable populations.
"Being from the community that I'm representing has been a major asset. ... The large numbers of Latinos in our state make it difficult for the broader health care community to ignore this population," she notes. "It's a great time to be a Latino leader in the state. The Latino population is a group that must be reckoned with."
A MILLION PEOPLE IN NEED
With close to a million people uninsured in California, health care centers are critical — something Ms. Castellano-Garcia and the organization emphasizes when leveraging investments from the federal government, state legislature, and the foundation community. Although advocacy has been a challenge because of a difficult fiscal environment for the last several years, she says the organization has been able to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of health centers and has secured funding across the board.
When there was a budget surplus in California in 2000, CPCA jumped on it and secured $50 million from the state legislature and leveraged that to secure an additional $25 million from a local foundation, allowing it to expand the capacity of community clinics throughout the state.
And in 2004 after the Anthem and WellPoint merger, CPCA advocated for investment and secured $35 million.
How does Ms. Castellano-Garcia do it?
"You get one to do it and go to another. We're still leveraging that success for more dollars." As a result, the funding CPCA secured has led to the addition of 1 million more patients than there was a decade ago.
Her greatest business strength lies in the attention she pays to the financial health of CPCA.
"I pay attention to the bottom line and don't leave the details to someone else."
Before joining CPCA, she was the founder and executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC), an advocacy organization that tries to improve access to health and human services. At LCHC, Ms. Castellano-Garcia took part in building a statewide coalition of Hispanic health organizations and health care professionals who advocated for health care reform and access to the uninsured. The organization played a significant role in achieving the adoption of cultural and linguistic standards in the state's Medi-Cal program.
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