CenCal Health Appoints New Chief Medical Officer

Community health plan also promotes two employees to key positions

Emily Fonda, MD, MMM, CHCQM has been named Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at CenCal Health, the Medi-Cal managed care plan for both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Dr. Fonda will provide medical leadership to the organization by ensuring quality and adherence to professional and ethical medical standards by the health plan and its network of providers. She assumed the role on June 13.

Fonda was previously the CMO at CalOptima, a public health plan in Orange County, California, where she served since 2013 starting as a Medical Director. Fonda was instrumental in leading the agency’s COVID-related medical activities for members and staff, including overseeing and expanding the Orange County Nursing Home COVID Infection Prevention Program that provided intense training for healthcare staff to protect themselves and long-term care members during the pandemic.

Fonda’s formal education includes the following degrees: Bachelor of Science at the University of Southern California (USC); Doctor of Medicine from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine; and Master of Medical Management at the Marshall School of Business at USC, where she was also a Dean’s Scholar.

“The CenCal Health Board of Directors join me in wholeheartedly welcoming Dr. Fonda, who brings tremendous experience and expertise with her to our organization,” said Marina Owen, CenCal Health CEO. “Emily’s background in internal medicine, private practice and hospital health care is an exceptional asset for collaborating with our local provider partners.”

In addition to the CMO appointment, CenCal Health promoted Carlos Hernandez to Quality Officer, a new position. Hernandez will lead the development and evolution of an organization-wide quality strategy to improve member health outcomes. For the past 28 years, he has overseen the effectiveness of CenCal Health’s Quality Management program, including but not limited to the program’s regulatory compliance, implementation of pay-for-performance innovations to improve quality of care, and all aspects of National Committee for Quality Assurance Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) quality reporting. Hernandez earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Economics from Stanford University and participated in Northwestern University’s Executive Programs of the Kellogg School of Management.

“With his dedication to continuous quality management, and breadth of experience in health plan operations, Carlos is a dedicated catalyst for improved care equity and quality, and invaluable to our organization,” said Owen.

Earlier this year, Lauren Geeb was promoted to Director of Quality at CenCal Health. Within the Quality Department, Geeb is responsible for the direction, leadership and supervision of quality measurement, population health, health promotion, and clinical quality. At the health plan, she reports to the Quality Officer. Geeb came to CenCal Health in 2004 as a Quality Management Health Programs Specialist. She has a BA in International Relations with a Minor in Spanish Language from USC, and subsequently earned an MBA from California State University Channel Islands.

For the past four years, CenCal Health has been listed at the top of Best Places to Work on the Central Coast by business publication Pacific Coast Business Times. In 2019 and again in 2021, the agency rated #1 Best Place to Work on the Central Coast.  More information on CenCal Health is available at cencalhealth.org

About CenCal Health

CenCal Health is a community-accountable health plan that partners with over 1,500 local physicians, hospitals and other providers in delivering patient care to nearly 220,000 members – about one in four residents of Santa Barbara County and one in five residents of San Luis Obispo County. A public agency, the health plan contributes approximately $50 million a month into the local economy, primarily through payments to healthcare providers who serve its membership. Established in 1983, it is the oldest managed care Medicaid plan of its kind in the nation. View its annual Community Report at cencal2021.org

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Media Contact: Sheri Mobley (805) 845-5627, 213 509-9816 sheri@seamlesspr.com

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