Travis Giles, MD, PhD, chief health officer at Hazel Health, a provider of remote pediatric physical and mental health services for K-12 schools, headquartered in San Francisco, is one of the ten rising healthcare leaders featured in the Executive Director of Managed Health Care. annual.
Travis Giles, MD, PhD.
She grew up in the small town of Chase City, Virginia. As an undergraduate at Duke University, I majored in Public Policy Studies and African/African American Studies. After graduating from college, she studied pediatric palliative care and end-of-life care at the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) and worked for The Advisory Board, a healthcare consulting firm, as a joint research analyst.
Building on these experiences and my interest in politics, I wanted to practice medicine and also be active in research and policy around improving access to care and addressing health disparities. She pursued Ph.D. and Ph.D. Through the University of Illinois Medical Scholars Program. My Ph.D. He was in community health with a focus in health policy.
She completed a residency in pediatrics at Northwestern/Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lowry Children’s Hospital in Chicago) and a fellowship in academic general pediatrics with a focus on adolescent and youth medicine.
Senior points in leadership include serving as the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and Tuberculosis at the Washington, D.C. Department of Health; Health Officer and Chief Public Health Services for Montgomery County, Maryland; and Head of the Department of Health at Hazel Health. I have also served on the faculty at New York University, University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and currently co-chair the CDC/HRSA (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Health Resources and Services Administration) Advisory Committee on HIV and Viral Hepatitis, Prevention and Treatment sexually transmitted diseases;
Why did you decide to pursue a career in healthcare?
From a purely academic point of view, I find pathophysiology – how the body works and treat diseases, especially pediatric diseases – fascinating. Healthcare provides the tools and platform to use clinical skills as well as policy, advocacy, and research to correct disease processes. Given the number of fluctuating things that happen in the world, I see healthcare as the equalizer to at least make sure that children are healthy and able to combat what they might encounter in the world.
What career achievement are you most proud of and why?
Graduation from medical school and completion of the Medical Scholars Program. I am the first doctor in my family to become a doctor, because many previous generations did not have the opportunities that their hard work provided me. I often think that if they had had more equitable access to education and economic opportunity, who knows what greater things they would have achieved. I hope my career will be a sign for those who grew up where I did that the sky is the limit.
What is the most challenging part of your current position?
Attempting to create a sustainable, socially driven business model. The easy way would be simply to view clinical service delivery as a treatment, but the most impactful part is to provide high-quality clinical care that addresses the whole child – including the impact of social determinants of health and other factors on the child’s ability to do so. Be healthy and present. Children are not very expensive users of health care services, and as a result, there is less significant investment in funding for pediatric services, especially in prevention.
What is your organization doing to address equity in health care?
Hazel is designed to address systemic inequality by providing high-quality healthcare at no cost to students or families, regardless of financial status, insurance or immigration, to students where they actually spend most of their day – which is school. This removes barriers including cost, transportation and lack of service providers to increase equity and access.
If you could change one thing in US healthcare, what would it be?
Much of our child care model is based on waiting for a child to develop symptoms or experience a crisis, rather than building a sustainable preventative culture for both physical and mental health. We need more investment from the Public Health/Population Health Branch and a greater commitment from the payment system to support building and sustaining a culture of prevention and the inclusion of support services, such as case management and addressing the social determinants of health. We cannot continue to wait for children to fall into crisis before we step up and address their concerns.
How do you avoid fatigue?
I am a staunch advocate of self-care. The method doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is intentional. I enjoy playing competitive tennis, traveling, watching the theater and exploring new restaurants. I also appreciate reaching out to family and friends to detach from the rigors of the job and help maintain perspective.