Where Are They Now? A Conversation with Past HCIF Intern Valentina Moreno

April 26, 2022

As we continue our celebration of Internship Awareness Month, we were honored to catch up with Valentina Moreno, who interned with HCIF from summer 2020 to spring 2021. During her time at HCIF, Valentina primarily supported the PURC program, Delaware Valley Patient Safety & Quality Award Program, as well as the Health Equity Data Strategy Collaborative.

Currently, Valentina works as a Credit Analyst at S&P Global on their banks team, while also preparing to graduate from Haverford College.

Please share your current position/educational pursuits. Why did you decide to pursue it? What excites you most about your current work?

I am currently a Credit Analyst at S&P Global on the banks team! I chose to pursue this opportunity because I felt very intellectually stimulated by the work I did as an intern at S&P in the US Public Finance division. I am an economics major so it has been rewarding to be able to work directly with the tools I gained in my schooling. The company is also very international which I am excited about given my international background.

What did you find most valuable about working with HCIF? What was something you learned from your internship with us?

I think I learned a lot about what makes someone a good team member at HCIF. Given that it is a small organization with many programs/initiatives, it was great to get the chance to work with most of the staff members on different projects. I think it is really impressive how everyone at HCIF is balancing several projects at the same time. This required me to stay organized along with my team members to make sure that we were achieving the many deliverables that go along with projects.

What’s a quote that inspires you in your career?

“Empowered women empower women.”

If we were to check back in with you in 5 years, where would you like to be? What would you like to have accomplished?

I am honestly still asking myself that question! I am graduating college very soon so for now I am embracing a very exploratory phase of my life. In 5 years though, I see myself involved in issues of social justice and will perhaps be returning to school to get a Master’s/PhD in developmental economics. The exact timeline has yet to evolve, but I am hoping to serve communities in the future. I’m just not sure on whether that will be through an organization or more school!

What’s a fun fact most people don’t know about you, or a favorite hobby, book, or activity that you would like to share?

I am an avid reader and recently loved reading “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernardine Evaristo.

Intern Profile: A Conversation with Eric Gore

April 25, 2022

In celebration of Internship Awareness Month, HCIF is thrilled to highlight Eric Gore in this month’s staff profile. Eric has been interning with HCIF while he works to complete his Master’s of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology from Temple University. During Eric’s internship, he has provided support to the clinical improvement team with the Pennsylvania Urologic Regional Collaborative (PURC) program. As Eric prepares to graduate and begin a new chapter in his professional career, he reflected on his time with HCIF and what a career in public health looks like for him.

What is your current role?

[I am a] Patient Services Coordinator at Pennsylvania Hospital. I have been in this role for 9 months; however, I have been at Penn Medicine for 5 years.

How did you become interested in this role?

I have always been drawn to the public health field ever since I was a child. I enjoy interacting and helping other people, which drew me to this position. My mother has also worked at Pennsylvania Hospital for over 30 years.

How did you learn about HCIF and what prompted you to seek an internship with HCIF?

I learned about HCIF and PURC [Pennsylvania Urologic Regional Collaborative] through individuals at Penn Medicine who had worked alongside Dr. Adam Reese. They put me in touch with him and from there, I was introduced to HCIF. I have recently taken an interest in cancer epidemiology, and this was a great opportunity for me to learn more about prostate cancer and the HCIF organization as a whole.

What have you found most valuable about working with HCIF

I found the teamwork and comradery to be most valuable while with HCIF. There are many responsibilities and moving pieces at this organization; however, teamwork has been crucial in making sure all tasks are completed in a timely manner. One of my fondest memories was attending the luncheon at HCIF. I had a chance to meet everyone in person and it was a great experience. I am very appreciative for the invitation.

What’s something you’ve learned from your internship with us?

During this internship, I really learned the importance of time management. With this internship, school, and work, effective time management is very important. This is an area I am continuing to improve in, and it will be a very valuable skill as I progress as a public health professional.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment is actually my most recent accomplishment. In a couple of weeks, I will be obtaining my Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology. It was a four year journey. I am very proud that I was able to persevere and work through roadblocks to reach my goal.

What’s a quote that inspires your work?

“You only fail when you stop trying.”

What are your career aspirations? Where would you like to be in 5 years?

My aspirations for the future include pursuing a career position in public health in my major. I am still undecided on whether I want to focus on cancer epidemiology or infectious epidemiology. In 5 years, I potentially would like to be pursuing a doctoral degree if I am inspired to continue furthering my education. I mainly would like to continue to make a positive impact in public health.

When you are not busy with school and work, what do you like to do?

I enjoy exercising and going out for a run. It helps me relax and gives me some alone time. I also enjoy playing music. I play the trumpet, and sometimes I compose music for fun. Most recently, I have begun listening to audiobooks and podcasts. 

Where Are They Now? A Conversation with Past HCIF Intern Michaela Hitchner

April 22, 2022

 As part of our “Where Are They Now?” series featuring past interns, HCIF was excited to interview Michaela Hitchner, MD/MPH candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. Michaela was an intern with HCIF during the spring and summer of 2020. She supported HCIF’s health literacy activities in the Immigrant Health Literacy Initiative as a Navigation Data Project Intern. During her fieldwork, Michaela worked with project partner Global Wordsmiths to craft a unique data inquiry to better understand the experience of medical interpreters in the Pittsburgh area.

Currently, in addition to pursuing a dual degree, she also works on a podcast called Med Legs: Finding Your Footing As A First Generation and/or Low Income Student in Medicine.

Please share your current position/educational pursuits.

I am in medical school at the Perelman School of Medicine, and I will be graduating in 2024 with a dual MD/MPH degree, both from the University of Pennsylvania. I plan on applying into plastic surgery for residency.

I was a global health major in undergrad at Georgetown University, and I appreciate the way my global health background has shaped my perspective on patient interactions and health promotion narratives. I decided to pursue the dual MD/MPH degree to continue building on these skills. I am looking forward to bridging my interests in public health and plastic surgery over the next two years, though I must admit I am still ironing out what this may look like.

What did you find most valuable about your experience working with HCIF? What was something you learned from your internship with us? 

I loved how collaborative my internship with HCIF was, especially during a time when we were 100% virtual. The weekly meetings with other interns as well as [HCIF staff] Kelsey, Jibreel, and Susan were invaluable to my learning in terms of bouncing ideas off each other and incorporating these into my own project. These meetings made me feel extremely supported and like a real part of the HCIF team. It also gave me an example of what a well-structured internship experience looks like (and was even an example of the sort of work environment I’d like to have), which will help me when seeking future opportunities in my career.

If we were to check back in with you in 5 years, where would you like to be?

In 5 years I’d like to be halfway through my integrated plastic surgery residency. Right now just getting into a plastic surgery residency seems like a HUGE accomplishment, so I haven’t thought too much about other things I’d like to be doing and could realistically accomplish as a surgical resident. I’d probably like to create some resource for first generation and/or low-income medical students considering surgical residencies. I’ve always thought there are a lot of unwritten rules in medicine that students are not privy to if they do not know someone in medicine who has had similar experiences. I like mentoring students with similar backgrounds as me, and I would have really appreciated some sort of guide to medical school for the aspiring surgeon.

Tell us about Med Legs! What is the goal of the podcast and why is it important to you? 

Med Legs is a podcast created by three first generation and/or low-income (FGLI) medical students at the Perelman School of Medicine. On this podcast, we share our experiences and those of other FGLI individuals in medicine. These can range from discussing imposter syndrome, the barriers we’ve faced in applying to medical school and feeling like we belong in medical school, or simply what to expect about different parts of medical school since a lot of times these are not things individuals know if they do not hear it from other individuals in medicine. The goal is to create a community of support for other FGLI individuals who are considering or actively pursuing a career in medicine. This podcast is important to me because it is essentially a compilation of things I wish I knew. I felt like I spent a lot of my time in higher education having meetings with multiple individuals who all gave me completely different answers about the best path for me and my future. While there is obviously no one best path for anyone, it was extremely frustrating and isolating to feel like I did not know what to expect in terms of how to get into medical school and now how to get into a competitive residency. I enjoy creating a resource for others who may be in my shoes.


To reach out to Michaela, email her.

Where Are They Now? A Conversation with Past HCIF Intern Adams Ako, MD, MPH

April 20, 2022

April is National Internship Awareness Month and to celebrate, HCIF interviewed some of our past interns to find out what they have been up to since completing their internships with us and how their time at HCIF helped them grow in their professional careers.

We were delighted to catch up with Adams Ako, MD MPH, who interned with HCIF from fall 2019 to spring 2020. During his time at HCIF, Adams helped support the Pennsylvania Urologic Regional Collaborative (PURC) program, which is a quality improvement initiative aimed at advancing the quality of diagnosis and care for men with prostate cancer. Currently, Adams works as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Neonatology Department at Cohen Children’s Medical Center and the Feinstein Institutes of Medical Research for Northwell Health.

What are you doing now, and what excites you most about your current work?

I work with experienced clinical and laboratory researchers at Northwell, who are advancing medical knowledge and leading innovation every day. It is exciting to be on this path, experiencing first-hand how new scientific knowledge is generated and how that is translated into improved clinical outcomes for patients.

What did you find most valuable about working with HCIF? What’s something you learned from your internship with us?

It was by far the mentorship. The opportunity to undertake research projects with the Clinical Improvement team and physician-researchers at the Pennsylvania Urologic Regional Collaborative (PURC) was an invaluable learning experience. There was also the opportunity to present our research at scientific meetings. The exposure was incredible and I saw how effort committed to clinical research can yield meaningful, useful results.

What’s a quote that inspires you in your work?

“Make incremental progress, change comes not by the yard, but by the inch.”

If we were to check back in with you in 5 years, where would you like to be?

I’d be starting pediatrics residency this summer. ​So, in 5 years, I hope to be in fellowship or working as an attending, more likely the former.

Do you have any favorite hobbies? Is there a place you would like to travel to?

I love to watch soccer. I also like to read a good, fun book every now and then— I’m currently reading “Midlife” by Kieran Setiya. For a travel destination, I would like to visit Italy. I’d like to see Florence and Venice.

Call for Entries Now Open for 2022 Safety & Quality Award Program!

April 11, 2022

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) is proud to have hosted the Delaware Valley Patient Safety and Quality Award for the past 20 years. The Award program is one of the unique ways in which HCIF promotes and disseminates best practices in health care patient safety and quality throughout the region. At HCIF, we are committed to supporting a healthcare system that is just, equitable, and high quality. This year, we are expanding our call for submissions and invite improvement teams to submit their most innovative patient safety and quality improvement initiatives that seek to embed patient and family engagement and/or health equity (e.g., focused on underserved communities; addressed healthcare disparities in our health system; etc). Additionally, we continue to welcome initiatives that pertain to COVID-19 response and workforce wellness.

Organizations that contribute to HCIF’s Partnership for Patient Care (PPC) program — whether freestanding or within a multi-entity system — are eligible to submit up to 4 entries for projects undertaken at each site. In addition, a healthcare system may submit up to 4 entries for system-wide projects that span multiple sites. All entries will be submitted via a web-based platform (linked here) and will be judged on specific criteria, outlined on page two of the linked PDF found below. We are again inviting clinical, quality/safety, and administrative leaders from regional healthcare organizations to serve as judges and participate in the initial review of award entries in Summer 2022. Entries must be submitted online by May 27, 2022.

Please click here for further details. If you have any questions about this year’s award process, please contact Cassidy Tarullo, ctarullo@hcifonline.org.

Partner Profile: A Conversation with Dr. Jeremy Souder and Eileen Jaskuta

Liz Owens, MS

March 29, 2022

The Health Care Improvement Foundation’s (HCIF) Partner Profiles highlight the efforts of valued and innovative health leaders. Our partners’ work supports HCIF’s vision of healthier communities through equitable, accessible, and quality health care.

In celebration of Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 13 – March 19) this month, we’re excited to feature the Chair and Vice Chair of HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee to learn more about what patient safety means to them and what they see as the most important priorities in patient safety today.

Jeremy Souder, MD, MBA, serves as the Associate Chief Medical Officer for Clinical Excellence and Patient Safety Officer at Pennsylvania Hospital of Penn Medicine and serves as Chair of HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee.

Eileen Jaskuta, MSHA, BSN, RN, serves as the System Vice President Quality and Patient Safety at Main Line Health and currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Clinical Advisory Committee.

HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee is the voluntary expert panel of health care providers and partners from organizations across Southeastern Pennsylvania that identifies the region’s quality and patient safety priorities and provides clinical guidance to HCIF and its Board of Directors. Additionally, the Clinical Advisory Committee plays a key role in advising the Partnership for Patient Care (PPC) and its programs, such as the Health Equity Data Strategy Collaborative, Safe Table, Delaware Valley Patient Safety & Quality Awards, and Leadership Summit.

Both of you serve in key roles on HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee that oversees the Partnership for Patient Care (PPC), which just celebrated its 15 year anniversary last year. What do you consider to be the greatest benefits and accomplishments of PPC during your tenure on the Committee?

Dr. Souder: The PPC convenes a broad regional community around the shared mission to make patient care more equitable, safe, and effective. In particular, I feel that the Safe Table Program and the Patient Safety and Quality Award Program create learning communities that foster the development of a shared understanding of challenges, opportunities, and solutions identified by leaders in our region’s healthcare organizations.

Eileen: I have served on the Advisory Committee several times throughout my career, but my most recent tenure has been 5 years.  I have always found that the greatest benefit of PPC is the sharing of best practices in the region and the opportunity to participate in collaboratives to advance quality of care.

This month, we’re celebrating Patient Safety Awareness Week from March 13-19, 2022. Given the many changes and challenges that have been encountered by healthcare systems over the past two years, what do you see as the most important priorities in patient safety today?

Dr. Souder: I see the ongoing workforce challenges, the care for patients simultaneously coping with behavioral health and other medical conditions, the course of the pandemic, and striving for equity in our care outcomes to be the key priorities.

Eileen: The most important priorities in patient safety today really focus on two things in my mind – getting back to the basics and including equity in the work of patient safety.

What is one key thing you’d like the public, or someone not in healthcare, to understand about patient safety and the role it serves in our communities and the healthcare system as a whole?

Dr. Souder: That it depends on people caring for people—trust, mutual respect, concern, and compassion—in 360 degrees, as much as it depends on process improvement, data, and technical improvements.

Eileen: The role that patient safety provides is to be preoccupied with failure to ensure safety for the patients we serve, and to develop interventions to prevent safety events from occurring.

“The most important priorities in patient safety today really focus on two things in my mind – getting back to the basics and including equity in the work of patient safety.”

Eileen Jaskuta

How did you become interested in patient safety?  What are your greatest accomplishments within your field so far (in other words, what are you most proud of)?

Dr. Souder: In my junior year of internal medicine residency, I began to feel disenchanted with my chosen profession. I saw how hard everyone was working, smart people were, how closely they paid attention, and how much they cared…and yet people got hurt, or didn’t get what I wanted us to be able to give them. 

Then I learned about the field of patient safety, and that there was another way to think about caring for people than the one I’d learned in my textbooks, and it gave me hope. I realized that understanding physiology, anatomy, and pathophysiology and pharmacology were necessary, but not sufficient, to achieve the outcomes we all pursue. 

I’m immensely proud that we, as a field, are grappling with challenges of high reliability, continuing with impatient determination to get better at what we do together for patients. I’m also inspired to see that now, when I bring up concepts like systems error, or the “Swiss Cheese Model” on rounds, students always nod their heads in recognition—they understand these core concepts before they get to their clinical training, and I see them engaging more regularly in ways I don’t remember seeing a decade ago. This gives me great hope! 

Eileen: I was always interested in providing great care and patient safety was naturally a part of providing great care. I also had family members impacted by patient safety events and knew that we in healthcare could and should do better by our patients. I think much has been accomplished over the years in patient safety. Transparency and disclosure were critical to those accomplishments because we could learn from one another to make lasting improvements.

I learned about the field of patient safety, and that there was another way to think about caring for people than the one I’d learned in my textbooks, and it gave me hope.

Dr. Jeremy Souder

You have supported HCIF’s work through numerous PPC programs (including but not limited to the Health Equity Data Strategy Collaborative, Delaware Valley Patient Safety and Quality Award Program, and Safe Community) over the years. What do you think makes HCIF unique? What is something you’ve learned through our partnership?

Dr. Souder: What makes HCIF unique is its ability to convene different regional stakeholders around the shared aim of delivering excellent care to everyone in need.

What is a quote that inspires you in your work?

Dr. Souder: “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results that it gets.”

If you are interested in connecting with our partners on LinkedIn, you can find Jeremy Souder here and Eileen Jaskuta here.  

Something that you may not know about Dr. Souder is that his favorite hobbies consist of water sports—whether that’s winter or summer water sports, he enjoys both! Eileen shared that things she likes to do for fun include hiking, learning how to golf, and watching college basketball!