34 As­sis­tant deputy direc­tor Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Health Care Ser­vices

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - —Ja­clyn Schiff

DE­SPITE HER LONG­TIME DREAM of be­com­ing a doc­tor, life’s twists and turns led Jacey Cooper else­where.

Af­ter giv­ing birth to twin girls when she was 22, Cooper ended up start­ing her ca­reer in risk man­age­ment. It wasn’t un­til a few years later that she found her way into health­care de­liv­ery, land­ing at COPE Health So­lu­tions, a man­age­ment con­sul­tancy.

While at COPE, Cooper was as­signed to work on the launch of a new ini­tia­tive at Kern Med­i­cal Cen­ter, a public hos­pi­tal in Bak­ers­field, Calif. It turned out to be the start of a very suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion, which in­cluded the im­ple­men­ta­tion and man­age­ment of Kern County’s in­di­gent-care pro­gram. Through Cooper’s lead­er­ship, the pro­gram’s med­i­cal costs were slashed by 41% over four years. She also cut ad­min­is­tra­tive costs by al­most a quar­ter. She at­tributes the re­duc­tion to im­proved care co­or­di­na­tion, in­creased ac­cess to be­hav­ioral health ser­vices and a fo­cus on the most fre­quent ER users.

Rec­og­niz­ing those im­pres­sive re­sults, Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Jerry Brown this year ap­pointed Cooper to serve as as­sis­tant deputy direc­tor of the state De­part­ment of Health Care Ser­vices. In this role, Cooper over­sees four key ar­eas: long-term care, sys­tems of care, man­aged-care qual­ity and mon­i­tor­ing, and man­aged-care op­er­a­tions. Cooper, who jug­gles her work re­spon­si­bil­i­ties while be­ing a mother of four, was drawn to the role be­cause it com­bines her care-de­liv­ery ex­per­tise with pol­icy and man­age­ment. She’s es­pe­cially ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity to help ben­e­fi­cia­ries di­rectly through pol­icy.

“Health­care is very frag­mented and siloed for a lot of peo­ple,” Cooper said, not­ing that she is pas­sion­ate about work­ing to strengthen health­care for the most-vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions. “I push harder for de­ci­sions that break down those si­los.”

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