Press release

CenCal Health Manager Receives National Healthcare Quality Award
Luc R. Pelletier Healthcare Quality Award Presented to Sheila Thompson

Santa Barbara, CA – (December 7, 2018) The National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) has named Sheila Thompson, RN, CPHQ as the recipient of the Luc R. Pelletier Healthcare Quality Award. This award recognizes a NAHQ member who develops a performance improvement program or initiative that directly impacts the quality of healthcare for a defined group of patients and improves organizational performance. Since 2008, this award has been presented annually to a single healthcare quality management professional during the yearly NAHQ conference. NAHQ is the leading organization for healthcare quality management professionals, comprising more than 7,500 active members worldwide. At the recent conference in Minneapolis, the award was presented to Thompson, an 18-year employee of CenCal Health, the local public agency that provides comprehensive health coverage to nearly 180,000 residents of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Comprehensive diabetes care is a priority for CenCal Health, considering the prevalence of diabetes in adult Californians in conjunction with known social determinants such as ethnicity, education and family income levels. Sheila Thompson and her team initiated a Performance Improvement Project by collaborating with providers at a local federally qualified health center to increase the rate of diabetic retinal eye exams for patients enrolled in Medicaid. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among adults aged 20-74 years in the United States. Early detection and treatment can decrease the risk of severe vision loss. By implementing systemic efficiencies and developing a member outreach process to support retinopathy screening, the center experienced an improvement of 30 percentage points over the previous year. Additionally, CenCal Health’s overall rate for diabetic retinopathy screening in San Luis Obispo county increased by 11 percentage points, ranking in the top 10% of Medicaid plans nationally.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as the 2018 recipient of the Luc R. Pelletier Healthcare Quality Award on behalf of my organization, CenCal Health,” said Thompson. “The success of our Performance Improvement Project illustrates the potential for a health plan to realize a powerful impact on the health and well-being of the communities we serve. To this end, through collaboration with our provider partners, we remain committed to the continuous pursuit of performance excellence.”

About NAHQ 

NAHQ defines the standard of excellence for the healthcare quality profession and equips professionals and organizations to meet these standards. NAHQ offers the only accredited certification in healthcare quality, extensive educational programming, networking opportunities, and career resources to help our members meet the challenges they face. 

About CenCal Health

Serving the community since 1983, CenCal Health provides comprehensive health coverage to nearly 180,000 men, women and children enrolled in Medi-Cal. This regional health plan partners with over 1,500 local physicians and other providers to deliver quality patient care to approximately 1 in 4 residents of Santa Barbara County and 1 in 5 residents of San Luis Obispo County. CenCal Health also collaborates with community-based organizations to address social determinants of health while increasing members’ access to medical care and reducing costs. The oldest Medicaid managed care plan of its kind, CenCal Health is a local public agency that employs close to 250 people at offices in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. For more information, visit

Press Contact:
Sheri Mobley
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