School of Public Health

Lessons learned at early age connect with public health career


Published: December 17, 2018

By Sally Crocker

 

Jaime Gonzalez

Dr. Jaime González

Growing up, Dr. Jaime González thought he might one day become a priest.

Life, however, had other plans, taking him on a different path of serving others, through public health and health-related services.

As Chief Business Development Officer for the Health Plan Alliance, a national trade organization that brings health plans, hospitals and physicians together to address patient health and wellness, he is passionate about doing all he can to make healthcare better for all.

“It really started with my family,” Dr. González said. “Growing up as the seventh of eight children, with an even larger extended family of 60-plus cousins on my father’s side and 36 on my mother’s, I learned the lessons of giving and sharing at a very early age.”

Both parents were strongly committed to church and community, and Dr. González’ mother was often the first to visit the sick or lend a hand when someone needed help.

“My dad moved here from Mexico to start a life and a family in Texas, and his commitment to making things better, not just for us, but for others around him, was truly inspiring,” Dr. González said. “Being part of something bigger, of supporting and taking care of each other – our family, friends, neighbors, church and community – showed me what a difference can be made and impacted how I wanted to approach the world in both my career and personal life.”

When Dr. González started working on his DrPH in Health Management and Policy at the UNTHSC School of Public Health, he had already completed a master’s degree in clinical social work and another in health administration.

He had directed clinical case management services related to pediatric intensive care and children’s cardiovascular surgery.

He had worked in the health insurance industry, and had experience with public policy and regulatory affairs.

He was serving in a top leadership role for UnitedHealthcare’s Latino Health Solutions division, developing projects, programs and partnerships to improve health services and healthcare access for the U.S. Latino market nationwide, when he was encouraged by a longtime friend, mentor and UNTHSC professor at that time, Dr. Adela González, to “connect the dots” in his educational experience by adding public health to his professional background and perspective.

“Public health is the ideal standard for serving the community and doing the most good for all,” he said. “Working in the health plan industry, being able to deliver services and resources from a broad, population health view, keeps the focus on what is most important, the patient.”

Today, in his role with the Health Plan Alliance, he oversees multicultural/healthcare equity programming and partners with members across the country on educational opportunities and sharing of subject matter expertise and best practices.

“My job touches on public health every day, whether it involves the social determinants of health, member/patient engagement, health literacy, health education, wellness, or the financial side of serving members efficiently and at a better cost through group purchasing and other programs,” he said.

“If I can help our members improve patient care outcomes, and connect people to information and people to people, then I know that I am doing what I believe in and helping others in the way that my parents taught me growing up,” he said. “My mother used to say that God has a way for everything; this is my way.”

Honors include the U.S. Surgeon General’s Medallion for developing culturally-relevant and bilingual health and wellness resources for UnitedHealthcare’s clients; the National Business Group on Health Innovation in Reducing Health Disparities award; and first recipient of the UnitedHealthcare “Living the Mission” award.

In his personal time, Dr. González and his wife are active in church and youth development programs; the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas/Fort Worth Chapter; and are founders of the Gloria J. González Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Advancement of Latinos in the Healthcare Professions, honoring his younger sister who was killed in a car accident before realizing her dream of becoming a pediatrician.