August 28, 2023 — Bronx, New York– Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez, MS, MPH, President and Chief Executive Officer of Urban Health Plan, one of the largest Community Health Center networks in New York State, has become Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC).
Ms. Hernandez assumed the leadership role during the NACHC 2023 Community Health Institute (CHI) and EXPO in San Diego, CA, a hybrid conference that drew more than 3,000 health center leaders, policy experts, consumers, and corporate partners from around the country.
A trusted thought leader, Ms. Hernandez brings to the NACHC board leadership a nationally recognized record of quality improvement and innovation in health care, a passion for health equity, and a visionary commitment to address the social drivers of health and reduce health disparities among the underserved. Under Ms. Hernandez’s direction, Urban Health Plan, which began as a small medical practice started by her father, the late Dr. Richard Izquierdo in 1962, has expanded from a one-site health center in the South Bronx, to a network of 12 health centers, two mental health facilities and 12 school-based health centers, serving approximately 84,000 patients. Urban Health Plan established the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School in 2010, creating a pathway to healthcare careers for middle and high school students.
During her acceptance speech at the NACHC conference, Ms. Hernandez described how the legacy of her father’s achievements inspires her work today:
“Like my father, I believe the heart and soul of public health lies in health equity, helping to identify and close the gaps for those who suffer in ways that address their social conditions,” said Hernandez. “I have no doubt all of you here today share a calling to keep building on the accomplishments of those who came before us. As Board Chair, my goal is to be an accessible and inclusive leader, committed to diversity — not just in people — but in ideas, experiences, and perspectives.”
Hernandez assumes the board leadership role at a pivotal time for the fiscal future of the health center program. Health centers are caring for a record 31.5 million patients. A major portion of funding for the program is set to expire on September 30th unless Congress acts. The urgent need for a funding extension comes as health centers are struggling to protect access to low-cost prescription drugs for patients and rebuild their workforce after the COVID-19 pandemic while growing numbers of Americans are losing coverage from Medicaid redeterminations.
Ms. Izquierdo-Hernandez sits on numerous boards, including the National Hispanic Medical Association, the Primary Care Development Corporation, Community Health Care Association of NYS, the NYS Medicaid Evidence-Based Benefit Work Group, Affinity Health Plan, Regional Aid for Interim Needs, and the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Charter School for Health and Sciences. She has served as the chairperson of the board of directors of the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS) and as a board of director of the National Association of Community Health Centers and as secretary of the National Association of Community Health Centers. She also serves on the New York State Medicaid Evidence-Based Benefit Work Group.
Ms. Izquierdo-Hernandez was raised in the Bronx. She received an undergraduate degree from Boston College and holds a master’s degree in speech pathology from Columbia University’s Teachers College, a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Social Sciences from Boston College, as well as an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Humane Letters from Metropolitan College of New York.
About Urban Health Plan: Urban Health Plan, a health system of federally qualified community health centers based in the South Bronx, Central Harlem and Corona, Queens, has served the community since 1974. The organization has 12 health centers, 12 school-based health centers and two mental health facilities. In 2022, Urban Health Plan served approximately 84,000 patients and more than 395,000 visits. Urban Health Plan is Joint Commission accredited. For more information, visit www.urbanhealthplan.org