Debbie Lester is the Chief Quality and Social Impact Program Officer at Urban Health Plan, where she began her community health care career in 1991. She heads up the quality division and directs the Institute for the Advancement of Community Health, an internal quality improvement (QI) institute and an innovation arm of Urban Health Plan.
She is responsible for carrying out the organization’s quality management plan to improve clinical, operational and financial operations throughout the organization under the President & CEO and Senior VP/CMO. Under their direction and in close collaboration with the informatics team and her QI staff, Debbie led the organization in building a culture of continuous quality improvement and internal QI expertise, achieving significant improvement in depression screening and follow up, diabetes control, HIV testing and viral load suppression, colon cancer screening, and other clinical and non-clinical topics. Bringing her expertise externally, she trained health care organizations and/or led QI projects for the Community Health Care Association of New York State, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the California Primary Care Association and Gilead Sciences Inc. HIV FOCUS initiative.
In partnership with Directors of Social Services, Nutrition, Health Education and Care Management, Debbie created a robust organizational infrastructure that addresses the social determinants of health through integrated support services and innovative patient programs at health center sites. She is a contributor to the quality improvement implementation guide developed by NACHC in 2007 and has co-authored three published articles on health care quality improvement.
She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Hunter College in New York City and an MS Degree in Organizational Development and Leadership from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.