Rachel Gonzalez, MPH is a public health practitioner and former Assistant Director for the National Hepatic Consortium for Redesigning Care (NHCRC) within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a national healthcare system providing care to 9 million Veterans. Rachel is committed to serving patients and their families by improving how healthcare is delivered. Her work is informed by her expertise in Lean and her professional roles in research, non-profit organizations, and academic settings. Rachel’s advocacy is also motivated by her personal experience witnessing her family’s and community’s challenges in accessing quality healthcare.
From 2013 to 2019, Rachel implemented VA’s Hepatitis C Innovation Team (HIT) National Collaborative to increase Veterans’ access to Hepatitis C testing and treatment. In partnership with Angela Park, Rachel combined population health management and process improvement practices to rally VA’s hepatitis care community to rapidly respond to the availability of direct-acting antiviral agents.
The success of the HIT national program was built on a 20-year foundation of VA
leadership and clinicians’ work in hepatitis care. Rachel had the distinct privilege to work across VA’s network of 171 medical centers to assess opportunities, identify gaps in care, and facilitate a deliberate, methodical approach to close those gaps. Today, VA has screened >85% of Veterans in care born from 1945 to 1965 and ~76% of all Veterans in care. Approximately 90% of those with known HCV have been treated. The successes achieved are due to the incredible network of professionals at VA whose commitment and advocacy on behalf of Veterans are unparalleled.
VA’s work demonstrates that elimination is possible. No matter where or who you are, we want people affected by hepatitis to access care in the way that best responds to their needs.
Rachel now works to apply the lessons learned from the HIT Collaborative to national VA pharmacy-based initiatives in substance use disorders and to regional process improvement efforts in anticoagulation.