Hispanic Lifestyle is pleased to recognize Zoila Escobar the senior vice president and chief administrative officer of AltaMed Health Services, as a 2021 Latina of Influence. AltaMed Health Services is the nation’s largest independent federally qualified medical center that is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. A prolific fundraiser, Escobar has consistently raised $40-46 million annually for AltaMed to fulfill its mission to provide quality care without exception to all, regardless of their ability to pay. Even though AltaMed receives federal funding, it only accounts for 2% of its operating budget and doesn’t sustain the comprehensive health programs it offers through its 27 medical sites that provide care to more than 300,000 low-income patients across Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Dedicated to leveling disparities in health care for underserved Latino communities, Escobar has spent more than three decades in community health leadership, spearheading everything from grassroots initiatives to major policy changes at a national level to improve access to healthcare services. Escobar shapes nearly every dimension of the AltaMed patient experience. She helps design innovative culturally competent programming to meet the complex health needs of the communities AltaMed serves.
When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, patient volumes began to plummet due to fear of contracting the virus. AltaMed was faced with unprecedented challenges and had to make many changes to accommodate patients in a new way. Under her leadership, AltaMed’s development team quickly secured funding from corporate donors and launched nine outdoor COVID-19 testing sites in underserved communities of Los Angeles and Orange counties, which were operational in just 10 days. The COVID-19 testing and medical evaluation sites accommodated anyone in the community, regardless of being insured. The sites were accessible to many essential workers in what would become the hardest-hit areas by the virus in Los Angeles and Orange counties. AltaMed was able to run the outdoor testing sites for months, serving tens of thousands of people until Los Angeles and Orange counties health departments were able to establish a wider network of public testing sites.
Escobar is also steering an employee-giving effort that engages AltaMed’s more than 3,000 employees that provides support to patients with emergent non-medical needs that impact quality of life such as car repairs, rent, motel vouchers, winter essentials for low-income seniors, groceries, and more. Since its launch, the AltaMed Gives program has raised nearly $500,000 and served more than 18,000 patients and their families.