Sitting Down with CHC’s Executive Director

Dr McCoy Webpage picture

Kristine McCoy, MD, MPH and Executive Director at the Center for Primary Care and Public Health at the VNA Health Group with Shakira Polynice, CMA

The VNA Health Group is pleased to catch up with an exciting new addition to the VNACJ Community Health Center and Center for Primary Care and Public Health, Dr. Kristine McCoy. Dr. McCoy brings rich experience ranging from the Clinton administration to the islands of Hawaii.

Dr. McCoy, prior to joining the VNA Health Group what are some of the highlights of your career?

After undergrad at Stanford and obtaining my MPH from UCLA I went to work for the Clinton administration. I worked closely on the administration’s healthcare reform efforts and other important initiatives, like developing school and adolescent health services.

During this time I met a lot of doctors and heard a common refrain – when policy work became exasperating they drew motivation from their work’s direct impact on patient health.

So after five years in policy I returned to Stanford for medical school and trained as a family physician. My first placement after
completing my residency was in New Mexico, where I served as the medical director of 11 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and a number of school-based health systems in
underserved areas.

In 2011 I left New Mexico for Hawaii. There, I helped address primary care shortages in the rural islands by building teams of providers that offered a full spectrum of health support to
these communities.

Why did the role at VNA’s Center for Primary Care and Public Health appeal to you?

Something that is increasingly being talked about is how medical care in the U.S. does not affect public health in a meaningful way. It’s no secret that we spend a lot on care and don’t have good
outcomes to show for it.

I’m proud to be on the front line building networks and wraparound services specifically designed to improve the lives and health of people facing limited options.

Much of medicine is fishing patients out of the river after things have gone wrong. I’m excited to build on infrastructure that keeps people from falling into the river in the first place.

What is your vision for the CHC, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and FQHCs moving forward?

The ACA has helped millions of people get access to insurance … but many remain ineligible for insurance through the ACA or have plans with premiums that require a substantial out-of-pocket spend before their insurance starts working for them. These people have a harder time following through on a health plan.

Through the CHC we can proactively plug these people into the care they need, offer cost-savings and connect them with resources beyond the VNA, like food banks and housing support.

It is also important to educate providers in New Jersey – who tend to view these services in isolation and may not realize that the CHC can help connect their patients with comprehensive solutions.

What are you looking forward to most in New Jersey?

After surviving our first winter in nearly a decade (!) my family is looking forward to the warm weather and our new beach life, the Jersey Shore edition. Also, I brought my paddleboard all the way from Hawaii and can’t wait to take it out on the Navesink River!