To whom much is given, much is required, a philosophy Maria Hernandez, PhD, has chosen to live by. On Saturday, March 30, Hernandez, Alameda Health System (AHS) Board of Trustee member and President of Impact4Health, will be inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame. Hernandez has made it her life’s work to level the playing field for the disenfranchised in all areas including healthcare and the workforce.
“I have a strong passion for health equity which is why I joined the AHS Board. The idea of serving all strongly resonates with me and I believe this role is an excellent way to give back to the community.”
In addition to her wanting to serve all, she fully understands what AHS is striving to achieve by becoming a population health manager. Her organization’s most recent endeavor is the creation of the “Inclusion SCORECARD for Population Health.”
“Population Health strategies cannot succeed without understanding the diverse needs of the patients being served or the unique conditions in which they live and work. It is our hope that other hospitals and health systems use this tool to review their current approach to health disparities and design a custom strategy to enhance or improve their efforts. At AHS we have several examples of unique programs like our human rights clinic that exist to support different population groups. Healthcare is not a ‘one-size-fits’ all type of business and my ultimate goal is to help everyone understand this and create system transformations that will best allow people to care for their patient population.”
Women inducted into the Hall of Fame are recognized for their outstanding achievements and contributions to Alameda County and its residents. Twenty nine percent of Alameda County residents live below the federal poverty guideline. Hernandez is fully aware of the fact that social determinants of health such as economic stability and education make a huge difference in a person’s overall well-being. While she did not grow up in the most affluent family, her immigrant parents were able to provide the basic tools she needed to be successful. However, she knows everyone does not have this opportunity, which is one of the reasons she co-founded LatinaVIDA a nonprofit with the mission to inspire the next generation of Latina executives.
In Spanish “vida” means life. But in LatinaVIDA, it is also an acronym for visibility, identity, determination and action.
“Women have to be visible to the right people to get the right attention and opportunities; additionally you have to identify as a leader, if you don’t see yourself as a leader no one else will; determined is what women of color need to get to the next level; and we have to be strategic and take the right actions to navigate our career path.”
Hernandez feels it is a great honor to receive this award and is grateful to be able to use this this platform to continue to talk about the good deeds taking place at AHS and Impact4Health, but says her work is not complete.
“Many at my age may be looking forward to retirement, but I am not done yet. I am in it to win it. My goal is to make sure all of our patients get the personalized, individual care they need, and only then will I be able to rest.”