South Florida Hospital News
Sunday May 26, 2019
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October 2007 - Volume 4 - Issue 4

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Marisel Losa Takes the Helm of Health Council of South Florida

As Marisel Losa advanced in her career in healthcare administration, taking a progressive series of positions in various settings, her values and convictions gradually crystallized, forming into a clear vision of where she desired to be and what she wanted to achieve. Her experiences on the front lines of healthcare, advocating for the most vulnerable populations and mobilizing resources to effect positive change on their behalf, ignited a passion in her to do more. That her vision has come true is no surprise to anyone who has ever encountered this powerhouse of brains, determination, optimism and compassion.

Losa was recently appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Health Council of South Florida, a position that she calls "my dream job." The Council offers community-based, strategic planning and program development services, with the goal of improving the overall health and well-being of the region’s residents. In Losa’s view, the Council is an outstanding organization with a richly deserved reputation for excellence. "The Council does high quality work, focused on the community," she says. "The people here genuinely care about the issues and are committed to finding solutions to resolve them. I’m proud to be with the Council and eager to make a difference."

Making a difference has been a pattern throughout Losa’s career. Prior to joining the Council, she served as Program Director of Mission Services, Mercy Hospital and Director of St. John Bosco Clinic, which provides free medical care to the underserved populations of Miami-Dade County. Under her leadership, the clinic doubled in capacity, added programs in health education and disease prevention and recruited a small army of volunteer healthcare professionals. In 2004, Losa was honored as a Health Care Hero Individual of Merit.

"I have a mission background," she says. "I used to see the problems and wonder, ‘How did things get this way? Who’s making the decisions?’ I wanted to be part of the decision-making process, to bring my knowledge to the table and have an impact. The difficulties lie in the multiple barriers to access, ranging from simple ones like language to more complex obstacles such as deeply imbedded cultural beliefs. The health care system is intimidating to even the most sophisticated among us, so imagine trying to access that system when you lack the most fundamental language or knowledge."

Losa, with her practical, down to earth style, learned to help people navigate the healthcare system by literally taking them through it herself, escorting clients as they kept appointments and holding their hands through it. It gave her a priceless education and insight into the obstacles they faced. "To find solutions, I had to know what they experienced, so I interacted with clients as much as possible. I could advocate for them, but my challenge was to determine how to help them do it themselves. Often, we design programs without knowing the client’s experience and considering the big picture."

Losa is a graduate of the Health Services Administration graduate program at Florida International University. She attended nursing school but family needs prevented her from completing the program. She brings the compassion and industriousness of nursing to her present work, however. "My personal mission is to help others, in any way I can. I view everyone as family and think about what I want for my loved ones. As a manager, my style is to develop partnerships and lead by example; I’m passionate about what I do and I nurture that same passion in others. I emphasize action; I like to make a plan and mobilize it."

Losa’s dynamic energy comes easily to her; she worked and attended graduate school while raising three children as a single mother. "I want to show my children that anything is possible if you work hard for it. I never say ‘I can’t;’ I stay positive and surround myself with positive people who welcome challenges."

South Florida faces substantial healthcare challenges, recently coming in 48th among the states in both access to care and healthcare disparities in a Commonweal Fund report. But Losa sees great things happening in community organizations and will facilitate those efforts through the Council, which has an array of planning tools that groups can utilize to improve their operations. Losa plans to make those resources available to people at all levels throughout organizations, not only to top level managers.

"There are amazing grass roots projects underway here," she believes. "I love going into the community to see what is happening, to listen and learn. I put my hand on the pulse of the community. When my children asked me what I do, I said I am a professional dot connector – I bring the parts together and weave them into a whole. I’m thrilled to be with this stellar organization and I welcome the responsibility."

Marisel Losa can be reached at mlosa@healthcouncil.org.

To learn more about the Health Council of South Florida, visit www.healthcouncil.org.

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