Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Urban Health Plan, one of the largest community health center networks in New York State. Paloma has devoted her career to increasing access to high-quality, affordable health care and reducing the rates of health disparities in underserved communities. Paloma’s unwavering commitment to advancing Urban Health Plan’s mission is reflected in both the organization’s successes and the positive impact it has on the communities it serves.
Under Paloma’s leadership, Urban Health Plan has grown from a one-site health center in the South Bronx to a network of twelve federally qualified community health centers, spanning the Bronx, Central Harlem, and Corona, Queens. The organization is also comprised of two mental health facilities, and twelve school-based health centers, all serving over 400,000 patients annually. In addition, Urban Health Plan offers many grant-funded programs and WIC services throughout its locations.
Paloma holds the fundamental belief that for an individual to grow, prosper, and achieve optimum health, their basic needs must first be met. For this reason, she has established an array of social service programs based on community needs and has led many community development projects. She continuously works toward forging and nurturing strong partnerships that work to address the social determinants of health, including food insecurity, housing, and job readiness.
Paloma anchors the day-to-day work of Urban Health Plan with values that underscore the diversity, equity, and inclusion she champions. The organization was recognized by the Brandon Hall Group for “onboarding best practices” and the Career Stat Frontline Award by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. Urban Health Plan was also awarded the Age Smart Employer Award for its diversity in the workplace. It is no wonder that Urban Health Plan is considered a significant economic engine that has contributed to the resurgence of growth and development of the South Bronx. The organization is also the largest employer in the 10459 zip code.
Nationally, Urban Health Plan is recognized and highly awarded for the continuous quality improvement work Paloma has woven into the fabric of the organization. She is a thought leader who is often asked to share best practices and Urban Health Plan’s model of improving the quality of health care for underserved populations. Urban Health Plan is accredited by the Joint Commission and recognized by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home (2011 standards). Level 3 is the highest recognition awarded by the NCQA. The organization has won countless accolades for quality and innovation, with its most recent in 2022 when it was awarded eight Community Health Quality Recognition badges from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for benchmarks met and exceeded during the COVID-19 pandemic, the most the organization has ever been awarded by HRSA in a single year.
Urban Health Plan has also won countless accolades for innovation, including the Nicholas E. Davies Award for Excellence in the use of electronic health records from the Health Information Management Systems Society. It is recognized as one of the first health centers in the country to implement and fully utilize electronic medical records. In 2009, the United States Environmental Protection Agency distinguished the Center’s Asthma Management Program with the National Exemplary Award for reducing asthma-related hospitalization rates in the South Bronx.
It is with great pride that Paloma dedicates herself to continuing the work and vision of her late father, Dr. Richard Izquierdo, M.D., the founder of Urban Health Plan. In 2009, the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School was founded as a way of addressing the community’s educational gaps and developing a future pipeline of health professionals. Since its inception, The School has had high college acceptance rates.
Paloma currently serves as the Chair-Elect of the National Association of Community Health Centers and on other numerous boards. She has also served as the chairperson of the board of directors of the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS).
Paloma was raised in the Bronx, NY. She received an undergraduate degree from Boston College and holds a master’s degree in speech pathology from Columbia University’s Teachers College, a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Social Sciences from Boston College, as well as an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Humane Letters from Metropolitan College of New York.