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2012 Employee Recognition Awards - Health

GOLD - TIED between Amy Meza and Debbie Wechler

Amy Meza

As a Nursing Supervisor at the Watsonville Health Center, Amy is recognized not only for her outstanding nursing skills but also for her moral approach to patient care, her uncompromising advocacy on behalf of staff, her practical approach to running a clinic, and her sense of humor, insight, and keen understanding of people. Whether managing employee schedules, making certain that protocols have been followed for patient care, ensuring that necessary supplies are available, that recruiting is anticipated as demand for patient care increases, or learning new legal requirements as programs and mandates change, Amy handles all of these tasks with great efficiency and skill. Amy also continues to perform line nursing duties along with her staff, which allows her to become aware of issues firsthand as they arise. Believing that it is important to help provide for the next generation of caregivers and give back to the profession, Amy works with community professional schools and encourages student Nurses and Medical Assistants to fulfill externship training requirements by volunteering at the Watsonville Health Center. Amy is a "virtuoso practitioner of the art of patient care and delivery," and her significant contributions to health care and the community merit recognition.

Debbie Wechsler

Trained as both a Public Health Nurse and an Epidemiologist, Debbie works as a supervising Public Health Nurse in the Communicable Disease Unit. With significant education in both fields, Debbie has a unique understanding of the essence of disease control and helps guide staff in their efforts to monitor communicable disease in the community and prevent its spread through vigorous implementation of control measures and education. In response to a diagnosis involving an active pulmonary tuberculosis case, Debbie worked with County staff and outside agencies to develop a summary of investigation findings, educated the agencies on the issues identified, and then convened a problem solving session. These efforts led to the development of strategies to improve the quality of baseline health information required of residents, staff and volunteers involved in group living settings in Santa Cruz County. Debbie has also worked with the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter and staff in the Communicable Disease Unit around rabies control, resulting in the implementation of a new and improved protocol. As a result of Debbie's extraordinary work, the County not only has complete and accurate data about the burden of communicable disease in Santa Cruz County and the outcomes of our efforts, but also boasts a team of carefully trained staff in the Communicable Disease Unit who work efficiently to stop the continued transmission of infectious diseases.

SILVER - Shared by the Medical Assistants and Front Office Team at the Emeline Clinic
Back Row, Left to Right:
John Suwinski
Sarah Souza
Monica Rodriguez
Teresa Ortiz
Claudia Flores

Front Row, Left to Right:
Risa Groyon
Leticia Mariscal
Ana Guerrero
Christine Ramirez
Ana B. Martinez
Cynthia De Santos

Not pictured:
Sheila Snavely
Lucy Montes
Esther Ruiz
Rosie Saldivar

With the Affordable Care Act on the horizon and outdated systems and processes in place, staff at the Emeline clinic implemented a new service model – the "Rapid, Dramatic Performance Improvement System" – to redesign work processes to achieve patient centered solutions. In order to successfully make a culture shift in the delivery of health care services, this fast-paced, challenging new system required a significant commitment of time and a willingness to change by essentially all staff in the clinic. As the first of the County's clinics to brave this new system, the Medical Assistants and Front Office team at the Emeline facility supported every step of this grueling process, helped the doctors and other providers they work with see the value of these changes, and remained open and optimistic about this new model of service delivery. With more than 6,000 patients coming through the clinic each year, Medical Assistants and Front Office staff were the absolute champions of this new process, which continues to see positive changes both in the delivery of care and in patient satisfaction.


BRONZE - TIED between Sharon Polak, Rob Vickers and Lucero Cosio-Santos

Sharon Polak

As a Departmental Program Analyst with the Health Services Agency, Sharon is known for the outstanding quality of her work and her willingness to take on data projects covering many programs and services offered by the department. With a broad range of knowledge and expertise, Sharon is able to work across many divisions, including Clinics, Behavioral Health, and Public Health. She has been instrumental in the movement towards the Patient Centered Medical Home Initiative and meaningful use of this model to transform both the organization and the delivery of primary care. Sharon has also been instrumental in preparing and understanding the MediCruz Advantage program data and organizing the data in such a way that it is user-friendly. Sharon's co-workers are impressed with her ability to figure out the appropriate report to run -- even when individuals making requests aren't entirely clear themselves what it is they really want. Sharon is always willing to learn and try new things and is interested in improving systems through the appropriate use of data. Her service on behalf of County government is to be commended.

Rob Vickers

Rob is responsible for preparing discharge plans for mentally ill offenders at the Santa Cruz County Jail. On a daily basis, Rob evaluates and assesses individuals for the courts to develop discharge plans for mentally ill clients, linking clients being released from jail with County mental health and other treatment facilities and services. While clients coming out of the jail system often face complex problems and can be difficult to place given the limited programs available, Rob is extremely creative and has the ability to solve challenging situations with diminished resources. He has also established excellent working relationships with judges, public defenders, members of the District Attorney's office, Probation staff, and law enforcement officials with whom he works, which in turn allows him to be more effective in his work on behalf of clients. Rob is highly respected by his peers and is recognized by the courts as the subject expert for this population.

Lucero Cosio-Santos

As a member of the Community Advocacy Resource Team providing services for people living with HIV/AIDS in Santa Cruz County, Lucero is recognized as a consummate professional dedicated both to her work and to providing outstanding service to clients. While people living with HIV/AIDS have a great number of daily challenges and often deal with discrimination and stigma in society, when clients come in to meet with Lucero, they are always greeted with respect, warmth and kindness. Her commitment, follow through, and work ethic are extraordinary and she is seen by co-workers as the backbone and the heart of the CARe Team. Lucero repeatedly goes above and beyond the call of duty and accepts additional assignments and responsibilities with willingness and grace. She also takes special care to create a positive and uplifting work environment and shares countless acts of generosity and good humor with members of the CARe Team.