Bernard Ortega

Bernard Ortega
Location: New York, New York Cohort Start Year: 2018 Project Topics: Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Health Care Access, Health Reform, Public, Population and Community Health Populations Served: African-American/Black, At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children and Families, Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Homeless Populations, Immigrants and Refugees, Low-Income Communities, Older Adults (65+), People with Disabilities, Puerto Rico and other U.S. Territories, Urban Communities
Program Administrator
Mount Sinai Health System

Bernard works in East Harlem, where the average life expectancy is 10 years less than the community next door—the Upper East Side. He believes that a person’s health should not be dictated by their zip code. At Mount Sinai Hospital, he has helped form a program with teams of doctors, social workers, community health workers, and nurses to care for New York’s most chronically ill and disease-burdened; they identify and help advance personal goals first, even if they are not medical in nature—like helping lower patients’ electrical bills. Only by focusing on their patients’ immediate needs can conversations about wellness begin. To sustain true wellness and make healthy communities a reality, he understands we need to mitigate how overwhelming healthy choices can be; the healthy choice must become an easier choice.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Demonstration Project for Efficacy of Medically Tailored Meals
My strategic initiative aims to leverage existing institutions within three spaces: 1) healthcare delivery programs, especially those that are both designed for multiple chronic conditions and transitional in nature; 2) food preparation and meal delivery programs, especially those that are philanthropic and capable of preparing medically tailored meals; and 3) healthcare payers, especially health insurance companies that are focused on Medicaid and/or Medicare members. I intend for my strategic initiative to serve as a demonstration pilot that can prove the efficacy of this three-party collaboration and drive improvements in patient outcomes.

Bernard believes that a person’s health is often a function of the hand they’ve been dealt, and in our country it is inequitable; we need to figure out how to do better. His family is first-generation immigrants who grapple with multiple chronic conditions. He’s also a U.S. Army officer who has helped deliver care for wounded, ill, and injured soldiers. He has a Master’s in Health Policy and Finance from a school of public service.