In the last month, we at Health Access have been saddened to hear about the passing of two former board members, who were both true leaders and innovators in efforts to reform health care and extend coverage and care to California’s diverse communities.
Late last week, Lark Galloway-Gilliam, founder and Executive Director of Community Health Councils, Inc., passed away, following complications from a long-fought illness.
As the head of CHC for more than 25 years, Lark was a fierce and formidable champion for health equity in Los Angeles, in California, and across this country. She grew Community Health Councils into a powerhouse organization, addressing racial disparities, expanding coverage, and improving health–from advocating for the safety-net to fighting for increased access to care for the South-Central LA community to get King-Drew hospital re-opened next year, to a working statewide to improve outreach and enrollment into public health programs, from Healthy Families to Covered California more recently.
We will miss Lark and her spirit, and send our condolences to our friends and colleagues at Community Health Councils and throughout LA and California.
Not a month ago, we heard the shocking news of the passing of Ray Otake, Chief Technology Officer of Paras and Associates, who suffered a sudden emergency heart condition while attending a health care conference in Las Vegas.
Ray also served as Chief Information Officer for the Community Health Center Network, made up of the key community clinics in Alameda County. With Health Access California, Ray helped develop our work around video medical interpretation. With our former executive director Melinda Paras, he created the technical design for the shared video interpreter call center network – the Health Care Interpreter Network. Because of his work and the efforts it helped enable, many patients throughout California can now access care in a language they can understand–in multiple languages, with minimal wait times or scheduling hassles.
We hadn’t seen Ray in a while, and we are sad we won’t again. He served on a HIPPA advisory board for us, and was the last person to hold the distinction of serving on both the Health Access California and Health Access Foundation boards. We send our condolence to our friends and colleagues at Paras and Associates, the Health Care Interpreter Network, and the safety-net community in general.
Both Lark and Ray were wonderful examples of California leadership on health issues, working for their communities and for the state as a whole. We salute their lives and their accomplishments.