November 17, 2000

North County Health Services Executive Named President of State Clinic Association

Sacramento, CA — The California Primary Care Association congratulates Irma Cota, chief executive officer of North County Health Services, for her election to the presidency of the 500-member community clinic association's board of directors.

The highest-ranking Latino in public health in the county of San Diego, Cota has an extensive background in health care as well as a personal commitment to providing health care access to underserved communities. It was because of these qualities that Cota was nominated to the presidency by her peers Sept. 28.

Irma Cota

"For years, Irma Cota has been a leader in public health and community-based primary care in San Diego County," said Carmela Castellano, CPCA's chief executive officer. "Now, she is bringing those skills to another level to help guide clinics statewide," said Carmela Castellano, CPCA's chief executive officer.

The daughter of seasonal farmworkers, Cota spent summer vacations from school in the fields, working alongside her family. Cota's past fuels her passion for serving the working poor and migrant communities in the North County region of San Diego.

After spending six years working in the fields of the Salinas Valley, and the Coachella Valley, Cota became involved with the United Farmworkers Movement at the age of 16. She received her first experience working in a community clinic as a teenager, volunteering as a translator for the Calexico and Salinas Farmworkers Free Clinic.

Cota went on to earn the first of many degrees, Bachelor's in health science in 1976 from San Diego State University. She was hired that year as a clinic coordinator and health educator at North County Health Services. Over the years, Cota's career took her away from North County Health Services twice to gain experience in nonprofit and for-profit public health management. Cota later returned to reclaim her community clinic roots.

"The clinics are lucky to have a leader such as Irma Cota to guide them through an era in which underserved communities are in the greatest need of a strong community clinic network," Castellano said.

CPCA is a Sacramento-based health policy and advocacy organization representing more than 500 community clinics statewide in ensuring access to quality health care to low-income, uninsured and medically underserved communities without regard to ability to pay for services.

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