Thank you Linda Tavaszi
Linda Tavaszi is the ultimate innovator; she has spent her entire career bringing innovations to the healthcare arena, making “the impossible possible.” Through her leadership, Marin Community Clinics has grown to become the key health care safety net for Marin County’s low-income population, serving approximately 32,000 patients a year, 80% of whom are Medi-Cal enrollees.
She has shepherded the Clinics through the changing health care landscape, often taking risks and always with a passionate commitment to the under-served. Access to high quality, affordable, and culturally-sensitive health care is a major issue in California.
Her contributions include:
- the development of innovative programs such as a multi-pronged approach to specialty care;
- strategic partnerships with other organizations such as hospitals, local government, and medical groups to improve the coordination of care; and,
- improvement in the quality of care at the Clinics through promoting outcome-based, rather than activity-based, reimbursement initiatives.
Through her leadership, the Clinics are now considered one of the key players in Marin’s health care arena, serving approximately 13.5% of Marin’s total population. Now over 43 years old, the organization, which began as an all-volunteer effort providing very basic primary care in church basements, currently offers nine clinics in six sites and has a staff of 380.
Linda’s willingness to think outside the box and work with unlikely partners are hallmarks of her leadership. The following describes innovations that have substantially increased patient access. Few of these services are available at other community clinics and, to our knowledge, no one clinic has achieved this full array of services.
Marin Community Clinics is the first member of the regional clinic consortium to have on-site radiology services. When the San Rafael site was constructed, Linda decided to include a lead-lined room for a future service. Several years later, she identified two major donors, and in 2015 the first radiology service became a reality. In 2016, similar equipment was installed at the Novato site. In its first 3 months, 688 patients had utilized this service. The benefits are tremendous – patients no longer have to travel to other facilities or outside the county for x-rays and clinicians receive reports more quickly.
Specialty Medical Care
Like other community clinics, Marin Community Clinics’ core business is adult and pediatric primary care. Finding needed specialty care (such as orthopedic, cardiac, and psychiatric care) has been a long-standing challenge; there are shortages and some specialists don’t want to care for underinsured patients. Under Linda’s leadership, the organization has adopted a multi-pronged approach:
- A Referral Department that receives over 1,600 referral requests/month from clinic providers and then identifies willing external providers
- Contractual relationships with community specialists to bring care to patients at Clinics sites
- A cadre of clinical volunteers who provide care at the Clinics or in their private offices
Patients now have access to 30 specialists, including orthopedic surgeons, cardiologists, podiatrists, and physical therapists.
On site Pharmacy Services
In 2012, Linda recognized the problems being created by lack of access to pharmacies. Many patients were without transportation, didn’t live near retail pharmacies, and had limited funds, resulting in the inability to fill prescriptions and no improvement in health status.
Her solution: create on-site pharmacies at the Clinics. Marin Community Clinics became the first community clinic in Northern California to implement 340B (which allows for special pricing for community clinic patients).
In the past, many Marin Community Clinics adult and pediatric patients not only went untreated for vision problems, but were untested. Through Linda’s efforts, in 2013 Marin Community Clinics developed a partnership with the University of California School of Optometry (Berkeley), whereby optometry students provide services at the Clinics. Those unable to pay are given free corrective eyeglasses. This partnership has resulted in the evaluation and treatment of an estimated 300 patients/year.
Marin Community Clinics’ robust Dental Program serves adults and children, including the homeless. Opened in 2008, it has continuously expanded due to increasing demand; today, it houses 22 chairs and is well-staffed with licensed providers. The Clinics’ 17,500 pediatric patients are a key focus, with strong emphasis on oral hygiene education and prevention.
The Clinics’ Dental Program, Optometry Services, Behavioral Health Program, and on-site pharmacies and radiology services, as well as its success in bringing specialty medical care to its patients, are just a few examples of the extensive programs that benefit the patient population, and are a service model that addresses patient needs for comprehensive, coordinated, and efficient care as key principles to the approach.
Patient-Centered Medical Home
The benefit of these programs to patients is clear: Marin Community Clinics has now become the Patient-Centered Medical Home to approximately 32,000 patients. These patients have access to integrated primary medical care, dental care, behavioral health care, preventive care, and medical specialty services from an organization that is close to where they live, culturally sensitive, affordable – and one they trust.
Marin Community Clinics consistently receives high marks from third parties, including:
- Two best practices commendations from the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), which surveys for compliance, care and quality
- The highest possible designation (Level 3) from the National Committee on Quality Assurance for the Patient-Centered Medical Home model
- Commendation from the California Health Council for the Title X Family Planning Program
- Recognition and financial incentives from the Partnership Healthplan of California for quality outcomes
Partnerships & Collaboration
Marin Community Clinics enjoys an excellent, mutually beneficial relationship with the community, including the County’s three other Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), the three hospitals, and the County of Marin. Together, we work to find solutions to challenges such as homelessness, specialty care, and philanthropy. The Clinics also supports key initiatives such as child literacy through its on-site Book Nooks, and food disparities at our twice weekly Health Hubs.
Linda is known for her ability and willingness to bring together disparate groups to solve problems and to get the “unwilling to do the impossible.” Because of her long-standing experience as a health care leader, people listen to her and want to work with her.
Linda has, for many years, been involved with the Marin County’s Task Force on Homelessness, which is addressing one of the community’s most controversial and complex issues. The high profile tasks force is comprised of representatives from a broad spectrum of the community. Her transition to CEO of Ritter Center will give her a new challenge to overcome. In her own words she says, “I decided to transition from my CEO position for several reasons. For one, I have accomplished what I set out to accomplish. Marin Community Clinic is in very good shape and, even with the uncertainty in the national health care scene, is poised to be a success far into the future. Secondly, it is simply time for me to re-invent myself, as I am always seeking new ways to serve the community. But, Marin Community Clinics is one of the great passions of my life, and that will not change.”
We are grateful to have had Linda Tavaszi at our helm for six very productive years and we are rooting for her on her future challenges.