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The Power of Partnership, Innovation and Learning

Local Public Employers Health Care Group Formed

The Mendocino County Public Employers Health Care Partnership has been created and includes representatives from the City of Ukiah, Mendocino College, Mendocino County, Mendocino County Office of Education, Ukiah Unified School District, Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, Adventist Health Howard Memorial and the California Education Coalition for Health Care Reform (CECHCR).

The new partnership came together over concerns for their employees who experience a variety of health care issues including the lack of timely access to primary care physicians and urgent care facilities, and the need for streamlining workers compensation and employment-related interactions with local healthcare. Their goal is to increase access and improve the quality of healthcare for their employees at a lower cost.

The lack of timely access to primary care frequently sends our local public employees and their family members to the emergency room when they would have received more appropriate care at a much better price from a primary care physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner. Emergency room care is far more expensive than primary care and, in these situations, is a significant contributor to the increases in premiums and out-of-pocket expenses experienced by our local public employees and their employers.

“We are all very excited to work together on these issues that mean so much to our employees, their families, and our organizations. We have a team of amazing individuals who are committed to doing what it takes to change our employee’s healthcare experience. If we can improve access, we will not only be able to have healthier and happier staff members, but we will also be able to retain them, attract new community members to our team, and save taxpayer dollars.” said Penny Lauseng, Chief Business Officer at Ukiah Unified School District.

The local healthcare partnership members met with key Adventist Health leadership last month (June 2019) to express their concerns, ending with an agreement to meet quarterly to discuss and review solutions. The group has also met with staff from California Assemblymember Jim Wood’s office to discuss their healthcare issues, strategies, and solutions. Assemblymember Wood is the chairman of the Committee on Health and is on the Subcommittee for Health and Human Services.

“Collaboration and partnership, when it comes to healthcare, can bring many benefits not just to our individual organizations, but also to our community as a whole. We want to keep our teachers and government employees healthy, not just because they deliver vital services in our community, but also because they are important to the well-being of our community. We’re grateful for the opportunity to come to the table because sharing ideas and opening the lines of communication is always a great first step towards finding solutions. And hearing from their unique perspective allows us to have a deeper understanding of the issues they face. We look forward to further collaboration to improve the health of our community,” shares Jason Wells, President of Adventist Health Ukiah Valley and Adventist Health Howard Memorial, two of the largest healthcare providers in the county.

Members of the Mendocino County Public Employers Health Care Partnership are working closely with the CECHCR Project, a neutral, non-profit initiative of the Center for Collaborative Solutions with support from statewide management associations and unions in California public education. The Center for Collaborative Solutions is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization helping others to discover innovative and effective ways to achieve shared goals. “Our goal is to improve the quality and access to care, which will ultimately lower the costs to employers and employees,” said Cindy Young, Project Director with the CECHCR Project.

Mendocino County Public Employers Health Care Partnership members include: Becky Jeffries, Assistant Superintendent, Mendocino County Office of Education; Penny Lauseng, Chief Business Official, Ukiah Unified School District; Eileen Cichocki, Assistant Superintendent/Vice-President of Administrative Services Fiscal Services, Mendocino College; Kimberly Larkin, Human Resource Manager, Risk and Employee Benefits, UUSD; Jason Wells, President of Adventist Health Ukiah Valley and Adventist Health Howard Memorial; Judson Howe, Strategy and Operations Executive Adventist Health; Heather Correll Rose, Risk Analyst, County of Mendocino; Sheri Mannion, Director Human Resources Risk Management, City of Ukiah; Cherie Johnson, Assistant Human Resources Director, County of Mendocino; Darcie Antle, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, County of Mendocino; and Nicole Marin, Director of Human Resources, Mendocino College.

For more information, please email rhoubart@uusd.net or call 707.472.5012.