Julita Mir, MD, Brings Insights and Expertise as MHQP’s New Board Chair

(December 2023)

The focus of Julita Mir’s career is at the nexus of all that MHQP stands for: optimizing patient experiences, building primary care relationships, and working to achieve equitable care for vulnerable populations. As an internist, infectious disease specialist and healthcare executive, the things that matter to her are the things that matter to MHQP. That’s why she’s a perfect choice to be MHQP’s new Board Chair, a role she will officially assume in January 2024.

Julita grew up in Venezuela. Her father emigrated there from Spain in 1949.

“My Dad used to say he arrived in Caracas with one dollar,” she recalls. “He was not intending to go to Venezuela; he was going to Brazil. But the ship broke down in Caracas and he had to get off the boat. He was only 17 or 18 years old.”

“We didn’t have a lot of money in the house,” Julita says. “And we lived in a country that had and still has tremendous poverty and inequities.”

This upbringing profoundly impacted Julita’s life choices. She chose medicine as her profession as a way to help address the injustices she saw around her.

She came to the US to do her residency and fellowship at Boston Medical Center. It was there that her career direction began to take shape.

“Early on, I realized I wanted to develop longitudinal relationships with patients, not just see them in the hospital when they’re sick,” she remembers. This was the 1990s when the HIV epidemic was still raging.

“I would see very sick people, and they would go on, and I wouldn’t know if they lived or died, or what happened,” she reflects. “So, I started thinking I could make the biggest impact in an environment where I really got to know the patients and their families. And that led me to consider working in a community health center.”

In 1999, she took a position at DotHouse Health, a community health center in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

“The health center wanted to offer more public health programs so the patients wouldn’t need to go downtown for treatment of HIV or hepatitis,” she recalls. “Offering specialty care right there was incredibly helpful for patients, and I got to meet wonderful, diverse people who trusted me as their doctor.”

She still has a relationship with many of those patients, some of whom are now in their 70s or 80s. Over time, Julita took on more responsibility at the health center, ultimately becoming the medical director, and then the Chief Medical Officer (CMO). In 2017, she accepted a position as CMO of a new organization, Community Care Cooperative (C3), an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) founded and governed by Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). Her primary role was to develop a model of care for primary care that could be deployed in a standardized way in the different FQHCs. She was there for six years until this past May.

“I’m proud of how we built momentum for FQHCs to come together, learn from each other, and be a force in the state,” she says. “We helped show how much is happening at FQHCs, and how much value they bring to those communities.”

It was during this time that Julita began working with MHQP, serving as Chair of MHQP’s Physician Council.

“MHQP is very unique because of its three councils ― physician, health plan and consumer,” she says. “The fact that this brings the organization a 360 degree view of what’s happening is really powerful.”

True to her values, Julita insisted that she continue to see patients at DotHouse while working at C3. She still goes to DotHouse every Thursday to see patients.

“I think that was very helpful because, as we were designing models of care of primary care, I also was in clinic experiencing and being reminded every day of what it’s actually like to deliver primary care,” she says. “Working in the community for over 20 years, you get to see what people’s needs are and how health care fits into their life. You see how for some people, it’s lifesaving and smooth, while for other people, it’s difficult and challenging to even understand how to get care.”

That perspective and expertise will serve Julita well in her new role as MHQP’s Board Chair. We look forward to working with her!

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