About TrueCare

We put your health first

TrueCare is one of the most trusted healthcare providers in San Diego and Riverside Counties. Our friendly staff and compassionate physicians specialize in providing quality healthcare and wellness services to underserved communities so people can get the care they need. Our goal is to make healthcare available to everyone in the communities we serve, regardless of income or insurance status.

A Place Where Everyone is Welcome and Respected

Our mission

To improve the health status of our diverse communities by providing quality healthcare that is comprehensive, affordable, and culturally sensitive.
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Our vision

TrueCare will be the premier health care provider for diverse communities in San Diego County and the Inland Empire, characterized by an exceptional patient experience, comprehensive and integrated services, and innovative approaches to clinical care, patient service and business operations.

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Our core values

We believe everyone is entitled to quality health care. As an organization that truly cares about your health, we are driven by these values:

  • Excellence
  • Integrity
  • Teamwork
  • Quality of Care and Services
  • Innovation
  • Stewardship

49 Years of Heartfelt Care

TrueCare by the numbers:

State-of-the-art health centers

Passionate providers

Years of trust and service

Patients

Visits each year

Dedicated staff

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Meet the TrueCare Family!

Leadership Team

Michelle D. Gonzalez, MPA

President and CEO

In April 2020, TrueCare’s Board of Directors unanimously agreed to elevate Michelle D. Gonzalez from an Interim role to the new President and CEO, permanently leading TrueCare into a new era of achievement. As the organization’s top executive, Michelle serves as the conduit between the Board of Directors, executive management, leadership and staff teams, patients, and the community.

As President and CEO, Michelle is an organizational powerhouse, leading TrueCare to milestone successes throughout her near 20-year career with the company, and now taking the helm of TrueCare as an $85+ million organization.Beginning her career at TrueCare as a Program Coordinator, Michelle worked directly in program development and community outreach, making her way through the ranks as an emerging leader. She then transitioned to the role of Vice President of Operations, overseeing and implementing key initiatives, processes, and workflows. Later appointed Chief Strategy & Development Officer, Michelle would spearhead key projects including a new TrueCare facility in Riverside County, development and implementation of new service lines, and working with the Board of Directors to create several multi-year organizational strategic plans. These plans resulted in significant growth in patient revenue, increased market share, and increased patient visits and community outreach.

With a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, a certificate in the Not-For-Profit Management Development Program through the Harvard Business School, San Diego Chapter, and Green Belt Certification in Lean Six Sigma, Michelle brings a deep understanding of community health management fused with a passion for serving. Her hallmark is the development of winning strategies that have exploded business growth in critical areas across the organization. Some of her most impactful achievements include the creation and centralization of the patient call center, planning and expansion of new clinic locations, multi-million dollar grant oversight, and award-winning marketing programs, all of which served to grow revenue and market share.

From within the organization, Michelle has been the catalyst and ambassador for the “Building Great Relationships” initiative, which underpins the very fabric of the organization and cultural foundation, striving to treat each patient, partner and staff member with the utmost respect, care and compassion. Michelle’s leadership philosophy aspires to achieve the ideal patient experience while maintaining affordability and staff satisfaction.

While on the cutting-edge of healthcare innovation, Michelle remains dedicated to the staff that fuels the organization. Her core belief is centered on clear communication to all employees, rewarding excellence, and inspiring for greatness. In her free time, Michelle enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children; keeping them closely connected to their roots with family from Mexico and Guam.

Dr. Marie Ann Russell, MD, MPH

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Russell serves as Chief Medical Officer, bringing extensive knowledge in providing quality health care to underserved populations. Dr. Russell has twenty years of experience serving in clinical leadership roles with progressive responsibility and accountability within the Indian Health Service, and recently retired from United States Public Health Services at the rank of Captain. Her passion for ensuring access to quality healthcare for all and her belief in the NCHS mission to care for the underserved in the community reflect her commitment to improving the health of the local communities.

Dr. Russell received her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, from the College of William and Mary, and received her Doctor of Medicine from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and received her Master’s of Public Health from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She completed the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s Improvement Advisor Training and is a certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt. In her free time, Dr. Russell enjoys running, hiking, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Kathy Martinez

Chief Financial Officer

Kathy’s 17-year history at TrueCare began as a Staff Accountant. After holding different positions in the oil, agriculture management, and public accounting industries, she discovered her passion for the nonprofit world and the challenges of accounting for a Federally-Qualified Health Center. During her tenure as CFO, TrueCare has earned a stellar financial reputation industry-wide. Kathy has also earned her CPCA CFO training certificate and is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. When she’s not crunching the numbers, Kathy enjoys spending time with family and friends, relaxing on the beach with a good book, and doing ceramic arts and crafts.

Andrea Lewiston

Chief Human Resources Officer

As Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Andrea oversees employee relations and engagement, talent acquisition, benefits and compensation, and credentialing. She began her career in human resources while working part-time as a human resources representative at a hospital in El Centro, CA. While there, she discovered her passion for human resources and the underserved community. Andrea believes that every TrueCare employee has a story that resonates with our mission and is honored to support and advocate for such caring and dedicated staff.

Andrea received her bachelor’s degree in communication and media management from SDSU and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management. When she is not helping TrueCare employees grow within the organization, she enjoys spending time with her family outdoors.

Tracy Elmer, MS, RHIA

Chief Innovation Officer (CIO)

As CIO, Tracy strives to continue improving care for patients through coordinated efforts between the TrueCare Business Intelligence and Information Technology departments.

Her vast experience in health information technology (HIT) and serving as a local leader of Health Informatics makes her ideally suited for this role.

Very active in volunteer work, Tracy has served as past President of the California Health Information Association (CHIA) and Chair of the National Advocacy & Public Policy Council for the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

Tracy received her Bachelor of Science in Health Information Administration from Loma Linda University, and her Master of Science in Health Care Informatics from University of San Diego. She is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. Tracy enjoys spending free time with family and friends, cooking, traveling, watching movies, and cheering on her son at his ice hockey games and martial arts practices.

Briana Cardoza, MPH

Chief Business Development Officer

As a member of TrueCare’s Corporate Executive Team, Briana plays a key role in executing strategic and emerging business initiatives. Briana began her career at TrueCare as a grant writer, and now oversees multiple branches of the organization, including grant writing and management, enrollment services, project planning and development, and patient engagement and retention. She secured a $5,000,000 capital grant, which led to the construction of the TrueCare Mission Mesa Pediatrics Health Center.

Briana holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health, with a concentration in Community Health, from UCLA. She is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and received the 2012 TrueCare Chief of the Year award for her advocacy on behalf of the Outreach and Enrollment teams. In her spare time, Briana enjoys activities with her husband and three young boys.

Teresa Therieau, MPH

Vice President of Operations

As the previous Senior Health Center Director and now the VP of Operations, Teresa has helped TrueCare expand and grow to better meet our patients’ needs. Her significant achievements include the creation and expansion of TrueCare QuickCare, the integration of behavioral health into our primary care services, and the development of behavioral health as a specialty service. Currently, Teresa focuses on making sure all TrueCare health centers have everything they need to provide exceptional care to our patients.

Teresa has 15 years’ experience in various clinical leadership roles. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology and sociology from UC Riverside, and a Master’s Degree in public health from San Diego State University. In her spare time, Teresa enjoys cooking, entertaining, and spending time with her husband and two dogs, Petey and Mocha.

Deidre Elliot

Vice President of Finance

Deidre (Dee) began her journey with TrueCare as an accounting manager, and rapidly rose to her current position through her hard work and dedication to our mission. Prior to calling TrueCare home, she enjoyed a remarkable 31-year career in public accounting for the public, private, and non-private sectors.

Dee received her Bachelor’s Degree in business administration management and accounting from California State University Long Beach, and is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. As part of the TrueCare team, Dee takes pride in making a difference in our communities. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, camping, and participating in community service.

Cathy A. Sakansky, RN, BSN

Vice President of Quality, Risk and Care Management

Cathy began her career in Women’s Health, where she acquired the experience and education that prepared her for the challenges of today’s healthcare industry. Her commitment and sense of responsibility to patient care is reflected in TrueCare’s high-performing clinical outcomes and her mentoring of others in pursuit of excellence and innovation.

In her current role, Cathy focuses on sustaining NCQA’s recognition of TrueCare as a Patient Centered Medical Home. This includes working to maintain continuity and cohesiveness with population health performance, overseeing prevention and mitigation efforts in patient and staff clinical practice risk management, and monitoring clinical and operational patient satisfaction/experience.

Cathy received her Registered Nursing degree from William Rainey Harper College, her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Chamberlain University, and is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. In 2018, she was recognized by the TrueCare Executive Team with a Leadership Award. Cathy’s desire to lead a balanced life includes spending time with family and friends, attending concerts, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

Amy Ventetuolo

Vice President of of Development and Marketing

Amy Ventetuolo is proud to serve as the Vice President of Development & Marketing at North County Health Services. With over 17 years of experience creating award-winning communications & marketing campaigns, as well as uniting philanthropic passions with organizational missions, Amy serves as a key facilitator to create lasting relationships by fostering community and trust, with donors, patients, community partners and businesses.

With experience in non-profit, healthcare and local government sectors, she has created and implemented strategies to propel key areas of business including designing new media & digital experience programs, advancing donor engagement and recognition programs, and federal legislation communications. As a North County native, Amy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from California State University, San Marcos with graduate studies in Strategic Communication from Liberty Baptist University. She also is a graduate of Leadership North County and holds multiple certifications in crisis communication Incident Command Structure training.

In her free time, she loves soaking up the sun and sea breeze in coastal North County or exploring new hiking or biking trails with her husband, two children and three dogs.

Dr. Denise Gomez, MD, PharmD

Associate Medical Director

Originally trained as a pharmacist at the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy, Denise volunteered many hours working in Senior Centers and delivering food to homebound AIDS patients. Seeing the need for primary care providers to improve access to quality care in the community, she returned to school and attained her Medical Degree from University of California, Irvine College of Medicine.

Consistent with the TrueCare mission, Dr. Gomez focuses on providing high-quality patient care, assisting providers in attaining high performance goals, and maintaining high patient satisfaction. She has spearheaded the expansion of pharmacy services to improve patients’ understanding of medications, improve compliance, reduce side effects, and help patients attain clinical goals. She is proud to work for a mission-driven organization that aligns with her own life mission. In her free time, Dr. Gomez enjoys traveling with her husband, and is an avid reader.

Robin Bradley

Corporate Compliance Officer

Under the direction of the CEO, Robin provides oversight of all compliance elements related to regulatory requirements and enterprise risk. Her strong background in managing Federal and State programs provides deep insight into the ongoing changes within the regulatory environments and the legal requirements with which TrueCare must comply. Robin received her Bachelor’s Degree from San Diego State University, is an alumna of the Blue Shield Foundation’s Clinic Leadership Institution, and is a member of the national Health Care Compliance Association.

Board of Directors

Donald Stump

Board Chair

Donald possesses 29 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations that serve youth and families in San Diego County and Boston, Massachusetts. His excitement to support and learn about community health centers drew him to the opportunity to sit on TrueCare’s Board of Directors. Donald’s knowledge of nonprofit operations and passion to assure access to high-quality healthcare for all cemented his decision to join our Board. In his personal time, Donald enjoys open-water swimming and craft brewing.

Carmen Amigon

Vice Chair

With over 20 years of experience in the for-impact sector, Carmen currently serves as Special Project Director at Community Housing works, a statewide developer of affordable housing and transformative resident programs. A social entrepreneur at heart, Carmen creates lasting partnerships and develops programs that help change the lives of those in need. Her expertise in national initiatives in the areas of financial capabilities, resident engagement, and community leadership are a real asset to our Board of Directors. Carmen is passionate about helping individuals and communities change their future and is proud to support TrueCare.

Harriet H. Carter

Treasurer

An attorney in North County San Diego, Harriet brings her legal expertise and extensive experience in corporate strategic and financial planning to TrueCare’s Board of Directors. She is passionate about healthcare, and believes it is a basic human right that should be available to everyone. Harriet is also proud to belong to a group of women who knit and crochet hats, scarves and baby blankets for several organizations that serve the underprivileged.

Adriana Andrés-Paulson

Director

Adriana is the Migrant Health and Support Services Specialist with the San Diego County Office of Education. She has first-hand experience with the challenges of providing access to healthcare to underserved populations. She was drawn to the Board of Directors by the leadership TrueCare exemplifies in the community. Adriana’s passion for healthcare stems from her desire to unify access to quality healthcare for everyone.

Andrés Martin

Director

Andrés is a school counselor for ages K-12, and an active member of the North County community. At the age of nine he first came to TrueCare with his family for healthcare services, and that is where his passion for healthcare started taking shape. As a healthcare advocate, Andrés believes preventative maintenance is key to having a healthy society.

Craig Jung

Director

A retired Hospital Plant Services Director, Craig brings years of healthcare policy and procedure experience to the TrueCare Board of Directors. He was eager to join the board, as he believes quality healthcare needs to be maintained and expanded to all underserved individuals. In his free time, Craig enjoys traveling and immersing himself in different cultures.

Dulce Benetti

Director

Dulce currently works as an Administrative Specialist with Associated Students Inc. at CSUSM, where she empowers students to become advocates for themselves and their educational careers. She supports the TrueCare mission and believes that healthcare should be accessible for all. She is a strong advocate for the right to quality healthcare regardless of socio-economic status. In her personal time, Dulce enjoys spending time with her family, meditating, reading, and gardening.

Karen Pearson

Director

As a TrueCare Board member, Karen’s extensive experience in business development and public relations provides key insights into developing meaningful relationships with donors in North County. In 2011 and 2013 she was awarded the Volunteer of the Year award from the North County Philanthropy Council. In her personal time, Karen enjoys helping San Diego youth develop professionally and grow as servant leaders in their communities. She believes in the TrueCare mission and that every person deserves to have access to quality healthcare.

Maria Elena Orozco De La Cruz

Director

As a patient at TrueCare, Maria brings a unique perspective to the Board of Directors by sharing her own experiences. She is proud to be on the board and to be given the opportunity to speak on behalf of all TrueCare patients. Maria enjoys being involved in the community and joined the Board to help educate local communities about their healthcare options.

A representative of the Migrant Education Program within the Vista School District, and a committee member for MAAC Projects, Maria migrated to California at the age of 21. In her spare time, she likes to go to the beach and spend time with her husband and three children.

Mike Michaelson

Director

Mike is a Professor of Computer Science and Information Systems. He has taught at several different universities, including Palomar College, UCSD, Webster University, and Pepperdine University. He has also served on numerous Boards, including the Board of Governors of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, and DPMA Board of Directors. Mike has edited, reviewed and served as a ghost writer for over 400 college and university Computer Science manuscripts. He strongly believes that giving back in the field of healthcare is an essential, current, and ever-continuing need. Mike is continually inspired by TrueCare’s success and strong involvement in healthcare.

Dr. Phil Yphantides

Director

“Dr. Phil” earned his medical degree at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and completed his Family Medicine residency at UCSD, serving as Chief Resident. Since 2006, he has been with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group (SRSMG) in San Diego, CA, where he currently serves as Medical Director of the Department of Urgent Care, managing a staff of over 80 medical providers and providing patient care.

He previously served on the medical group’s Board of Directors as Physician Champion for the group’s successful quality programs. Those programs included Diabetes and Hypertension management, Chairman of the Clinical Guidelines Committee, and Chairman of the Health Information Management Committee. Prior to joining Sharp Rees-Stealy, Dr. Phil was the Outpatient Medical Director of a network of Community Health Centers, serving uninsured and low-income residents in the local area. He has a contagious passion for improving the quality, efficiency, and empathy of care delivery to patients.

Russell Riehl

Director

Currently the Director of Occupational Medicine services at Palomar Health, Russell’s role covers a vast array of healthcare environments including Employee Health, Safety, and multiple specialty outpatient clinics. He has worked to provide improved access to patients and healthcare personnel and is excited for the opportunity to participate on the TrueCare Board of Directors. He believes every community member should have the right to healthcare and feel comfortable accessing it. Away from the job, Russ enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, and going to the beach.

Victor Botello

Director

Victor is a co-founder and Development Director at TrueCare. He has worked in nonprofit management for many years, and understands the challenges faced by nonprofit organizations. Victor was drawn to the Board of Directors because he believes TrueCare is one of the premier providers of healthcare services, not only in San Diego County, but in the country. Victor enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, fishing, and playing golf.

Walt Steffen

Director

Walt is one of the founders of TrueCare and is proud to sit on the Board of Directors. As a retired clinical social worker, he is passionate to help establish clinics for low-income individuals unable to secure adequate healthcare. Walt is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and feels everyone has the right to quality healthcare. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and family, attending sporting events with his sons and son-in-law, and reading.

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Our Health Partners

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NCQA Quality Recognition

TrueCare is proud to be a fully-accredited, level 3, Patient-Centered Medical Home. As an organization, we are recognized through the National Commission for Quality Assurance (NCQA) at the highest level possible. This verifies our ability to provide the highest quality care and ensures a dedicated team of health professionals will deliver the medical care you need.

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CaliforniaHealth+

TrueCare is part of a network of community health centers that serve everyone in our communities, regardless of ability to pay. We are committed to taking care of you and your family with quality medical care, including prenatal, dental, lab and x-ray services, transportation and more. TrueCare is proud to serve as a trusted friend and partner in your lifelong healthcare journey.

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Covered California

TrueCare was one of the first health centers in North County to become a Certified Enrollment Entity through Covered CA. Our bilingual staff is always ready to help you find a Covered CA or Medi-Cal plan that works for you and your budget. We also help you fill out and submit the paperwork, and even help you make your first appointment as an insured person or family.

Awards and Recognition

2019: Named Impact Business of the Year by the North San Diego Business Chamber

2019: Received Health Care Communicators of San Diego 2019 Finest Awards for Special Events and Special Publications

2019: Received the HRSA Award of Excellence for outstanding clinical outcomes

2018: Received Health Care Communicators of San Diego 2018 Finest Awards for Promotion of a Single-Day Event and Special Publications

2018: Honored as the 2018 Non-Profit of the Year by the Perris Valley Chamber of Commerce

2017: Received Health Care Communicators of San Diego 2017 Finest Awards for Special Events, Publications, Collateral and Design

2016: Awarded the Peter Barron Stark Companies Award for Workplace Excellence

2015: Recognized as Primary Care Partner of the Year for 2014 by the American Cancer Society

At TrueCare, our success depends on our employees. We recognize them in many ways, including Employee of the Year, internal newsletter recognition and anniversary recognition.

NCQA Patient centered medical home designation logo in white
NCQA Quality Recognition

We are proud to announce that we have achieved the highest-level Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition from the NCQA for all primary care health centers.

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Annual Reports

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Learn more about TrueCare wellness services.

Extraordinary care with a heart.

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