This content is sponsored by Point32Health

Sponsored by Point32Health

This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's Studio/B in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.

Voices for health equity: Meet health care professionals making a difference

From serving rural communities to the LGBTQIA+ community, they champion equitable health care.

Everyone should have the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. This idea is the guiding principle of health equity, a term that refers to addressing and solving systemic inequities that lead to disparities in health outcomes. 

Health care professionals working directly with vulnerable and at-risk populations play a crucial role in making health care more equitable. They work in communities with limited resources and often support patients facing one or more barriers to care — such as financial constraints, language barriers, or transportation issues — and recognize the importance of cultural competency and understanding the unique needs and challenges of the populations they serve.

Here, we celebrate some of those health care professionals in New England by asking what inspired them to join their field and what inspires them to continue. 

“Our organization strives to provide affordable health care” 

A woman with long brown hair, glasses, and a brown turtleneck stands in front of a purple wall at a Point32health event holding a sign that says "IWD."
Jeanny Mejia, community health worker at Point32Health

“Everyone, regardless of age, race or gender, should have the opportunity to obtain quality health care and any resources needed to achieve the best quality of life,” says Jeanny Mejia, a community health worker at Point32Health, a local nonprofit health and well-being organization and parent company of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan. 

“Prior to working in the health care field, I personally saw firsthand a lack of guidance and support when helping my grandmother,” Mejia says. 

She now works with the senior population in the Boston area, helping members fill out applications for services such as MassHealth and food stamps (SNAP) and discussing assistance they may need with any social determinants of health (SDOH), such as transportation or heating resources. She also collaborates with the individuals and medical providers on care planning and addressing ongoing care needs.

“Our organization strives to provide affordable health care to individuals and partakes in community building to help improve the well-being of members,” she says.


“My personal approach is centered around my lived experience” 

A woman with curly brown hair wearing a beaded necklace and a white lab coat smiles at the camera.
Melissa Martinez-Adorno, OBGYN at Foundation Medical Partners, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center

Melissa Martinez-Adorno is an OBGYN providing inclusive, culturally sensitive care in Nashua, NH. Many of her patients speak limited English, are women of color or are impacted by drug addiction. 

“I want all of my patients to have a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible, to give birth to the healthiest possible babies,” Martinez-Adorno says.

While in medical school, Martinez-Adorno realized that her language skills and personal experience overcoming barriers to care were a unique asset to her patients.

“My personal approach is centered around my lived experience,” Martinez-Adorno says. “As a Latina, as an émigré who had to learn English, and as a multilingual Latina physician, I approach my work with the underserved community with passion, empathy, and with an understanding that even I have my own bias that I have to learn to work through every day.” 

“Gender-affirming care is essential and equitable care” 

Selfie of a freckled woman with light blue eyes wearing green glasses and a navy blue athletic zip-up sweater while smiling slightly at the camera.
Julia Thompson, medical director of trans health at Fenway Health

When Julia Thompson began working with patients identifying as transgender and gender diverse at Fenway Health, she realized this group had been missing from her medical school education. 

“I came to understand the impact that affirming and validating someone’s identity — their being and belonging — has on both mental and physical health,” she says. “It was clear that gender-affirming care is not only good health care, but essential and equitable care.” 

Thompson is now the medical director of trans health at Fenway Health, a community health center in Boston with a mission to serve LGBTQIA+ communities and other marginalized populations. At Fenway Health, gender-affirming care is not a specialty, but rather the standard of care throughout the clinic.

“Providing affirming care is not hard — it is seeing and celebrating another individual’s authentic self,” Thompson says. “It is beautiful to be a part of the moment when someone can feel safe to be themself and help them to celebrate that joy of being themself.”


“We have to be sensitive to the barriers that patients face when living in rural settings” 

A balding man with a ring of black hair wears a blue business suit and rust-colored glasses while smiling.
Patrick Ho, attending physician in psychiatry and preventive medicine at Dartmouth Health’s Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center

Patrick Ho is an attending physician in psychiatry and preventive medicine at Dartmouth Health’s Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH. Working at the largest medical center in the region, he sees patients from many rural parts of northern New England who come to the center because mental health care may not be available in their communities. He also offers telepsychiatry consultation services for other hospitals in rural New Hampshire and Vermont. 

“Although it is difficult for anybody to access timely and appropriate mental health care, it is especially difficult for those living in rural areas,” says Ho, who grew up in and completed his medical education in a rural area. “We have to be sensitive to the barriers that patients face when living in rural settings and do our best to ensure these patients don’t fall through the cracks because of where they live.” These barriers could include, for example, a long distance to the nearest pharmacy or a lack of public transportation.

“I can’t think of a more rewarding career,” Ho says.

“I work to address any social determinant of health” 

A blonde woman with blue eyes and gold hoop earrings smiles genuinely.
Caila Kelley, care manager at Point32Health

Caila Kelley has been a registered nurse for ten years. She worked in a hospital setting until last year, when she decided to make a career shift.

“I knew I was ready to move on from inpatient care, but I was still eager to educate and ensure the best possible outcomes for members or patients,” Kelley says. She found a role that was the perfect fit: a care manager at Point32Health. 

In her new role, Kelley serves immigrant populations who might have low income or no support system nearby. She works closely with community health workers to address any SDOH needs.

“You feel knocked down some days,” Kelley acknowledges. “But the times when you hear the relief in a member’s voice and a ‘thank you, you just made my life so much easier,’ and ‘I feel supported and empowered’ will keep you encouraged and motivated each day!” 

“I feel good every day knowing I am making a difference”

Adina Spriggs is also a registered nurse and care manager at Point32Health. She works with MassHealth members who usually have a low income. She and her team provide members assistance with everything from understanding their insurance to assisting with care coordination to connecting them to additional resources.

The goal is “to meet the members where they are and to work in unison with the members to reach their health care goals,” Spriggs says. “It’s a very rewarding population to work with. I feel good every day knowing I am making a difference in their lives.” 

Point32Health health plans are the first in New England to earn Health Equity Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Health Equity Accreditation recognizes organizations that lead in the market in providing culturally and linguistically sensitive services, and work to reduce health care disparities. Learn more about our commitment to reducing disparities and improving care so all we serve can reach their full health potential: read the press release.


This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's Studio/B in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.