Reducing Barriers to Health Care

Inspirational Women 2022
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Disparities in medical coverage follow economic lines – Here is what AltaMed is doing to change that.

The COVID-19 pandemic greatly magnified the importance of health care. Now, as we begin to turn the page on what amounted to the most challenging health crisis of our lifetime, Zoila D. Escobar believes that the same way we saved lives by mobilizing community vaccination, we have an opportunity to restore community health, rebuild our communities, and empower families to flourish for generations to come. As President of the AltaMed Foundation, Escobar has launched H.E.L.P. to accomplish just that. H.E.L.P. stands for Health, Equity, Life-altering, and Programs.

Inspirational Women 2022
Zoila D. Escobar, Executive vice president and chief administrative officer, AltaMed Health Services; President, AltaMed Foundation

Under the H.E.L.P. initiative, AltaMed Foundation’s most urgent priority is to better the Health of the communities we serve. We accomplish that by delivering life-saving preventive services like vaccines and screening exams, disease management tools, and the resources needed to live well. This includes providing easy and convenient access to diabetes and hypertension screenings; taking mobile mammography units to serve women at their workplaces; providing children vaccines at home; and offering access to fresh fruits and vegetables with a side of nutrition education.

Escobar believes that a person’s ZIP code should not be the primary determinant of your health. As we rebuild, we need to apply an Equity lens to reinforce the strength of our communities, and give all families access to affordable, quality care with culturally competent nurses, physicians and staff.

No one should be forced to make Life-altering sacrifices based on a lack of funds. Unfortunately, in our communities, many families are now in worse financial positions than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the result of decreased or lost employment, housing instability and unexpected illness or injury.

One way Escobar is helping these families is with a program that helps cover patients’ expenses, so that they have a chance at health. Lastly, Escobar believes that in order to create real changes in the health and well-being of the communities we serve, we must strategically invest in them and create a network of innovative, accessible community-focused Programs. Therefore, AltaMed partners with like-minded organizations to create a workforce pipeline, offer resource development, and provide youth with academic, leadership and empowerment opportunities. Programs that will make a major community impact and will help our communities succeed.

Escobar’s ask: We can’t do this alone. Our communities need a collection of highly committed people all working together for the same cause. Will you join us? To learn more about the H.E.L.P. initiative, please visit

Dedicated to leveling disparities in health care for underserved Latino communities, Zoila D. Escobar has spent more than four decades in community health leadership, spearheading everything from grassroots initiatives to major policy changes at a national level to improve access to health care services. As an immigrant child who grew up in under resourced communities, Escobar is painfully aware of the disparities families face when access to health care is at the bottom of a long “needs versus wants” list.

Now, as a leader and change maker, she has made it her mission to ensure that the cost of health care does not compete with groceries, housing, or other basic needs. She has a solution to addressing health inequities that follows three simple steps. First, partner with forward-thinking people who want to reduce barriers to health care in underserved communities; second, build on what we have learned from the pandemic; and third, align your actions and financial investments with your values to support lasting change.