Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Urban Health Plan (UHP), a network of community health centers located in the South Bronx, Central Harlem, and Northwestern Queens. Through her leadership and vision, Ms. Izquierdo-Hernandez has built Urban Health Plan into a first-class health care organization. From its humble beginning as a one-site local community health center, Urban Health Plan is now one of the largest community health centers in New York State, the largest employer in the 10459-zip code, and is considered a significant economic anchor and engine that has contributed to the resurgence of growth and development in the South Bronx. Ms. Izquierdo-Hernandez has devoted her career to increasing access to high-quality, affordable health care and reducing the rates of health disparities in underserved communities. This commitment is reflected in the many achievements and successes of the organization under her leadership.
With fierce determination, she shepherded the expansion of Urban Health Plan from a one-site facility in the South Bronx, to a network of federally qualified community health centers that includes twelve sites in the Bronx, Central Harlem, and Queens; twelve school-based health programs; two mental health facilities; two part-time facilities for at-risk populations; WIC programs throughout the network; and multiple grant-funded programs. Today, Urban Health Plan serves a volume of close to 400,000 patient visits annually.
Ms. Izquierdo-Hernandez has been recognized nationally for the continuous quality improvement work she spearheads at UHP and is often requested to speak nationally on best practices and the UHP model for improving the quality of health care for underserved populations. Urban Health Plan is accredited by the Joint Commission and recognized by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home (2011 standards). Level 3 is the highest recognition awarded by the NCQA.
Ms. Izquierdo-Hernandez’s achievements are a testament to her commitment to continuing the work of her father Dr. Richard Izquierdo, M.D., the founder of Urban Health Plan, and to serving their beloved community. In 2009, the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School was founded by UHP as a way of addressing the community’s educational gaps and developing a future pipeline of health professionals. In 2017, the school had a 100% college admission rate, and several members of that graduating class became certified emergency medical technicians.
UHP has won countless accolades for quality and innovation, including the Nicholas E. Davies Award for Excellence in the use of electronic health records from the Health Information Management Systems Society. It is also recognized as one of the first health centers in the country to implement and fully utilize electronic medical records. In 2009, the United States Environmental Protection Agency distinguished the Center’s Asthma Management Program with the National Exemplary Award for reducing asthma-related hospitalization rates in the South Bronx. Most recently, in 2022 UHP was awarded seven Community Health Quality Recognition badges from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for benchmarks met and exceeded during the COVID-19 pandemic, the most the organization has ever been awarded by HRSA in a single year.
UHP also sets the bar high as an employer of choice with recognitions that include the Metro New Market Tax Credit Project of the Year Award from the Novogradac Community Development Foundation, The Brandon Group Award in recognition of UHP’s “onboarding” best practices, the Career Stat Frontline Award from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, and the Age Smart Employer Award for UHP’s diversity in the workplace.
Ms. Izquierdo-Hernandez is well respected by her staff for the contagious passion that she has for her organization and its nearly 1000 employees, including 150 providers, most of whom she knows by name. She sets the example that at UHP, people come first. She is a role model for her employees and a true example of consistent and outstanding leadership.
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 is the current 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, NY. 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.