Home Pharmacy practice Health care network’s new CEO says focus is on ‘closing the gaps’ in access to care

Health care network’s new CEO says focus is on ‘closing the gaps’ in access to care


A new CEO has taken the helm of Healthcare Network, the nonprofit organization that is the medical home for many of Collier County’s most needy residents.

Jamie Ulmer, 51, replaces Emily Ptaszek, who left her CEO role earlier this year for a position in Colorado. Ulmer started on July 11.

Healthcare Network is a federally licensed, not-for-profit health center dedicated to providing primary medical care to everyone, regardless of insurance status, income, or employment. It also provides dental care and behavioral health services.

In order to receive federal support, the health care network and other qualified centers must focus on underserved communities and provide services on a sliding scale basis based on patients’ ability to pay.

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Healthcare Network staff in 2021 cared for approximately 50,000 patients for nearly 148,000 patient visits. Of the total patients, nearly 27,000 are children. Nearly $13 million in unpaid care was provided to patients last year.

This year’s operating budget is $51 million for 18 practice sites, three mobile units and two pharmacies. The health network has 380 employees.

“After a comprehensive nationwide search process, the Board is pleased to have found the most qualified individual to take on the leadership of this organization,” said Haris Domond, Chairman of the Healthcare Network Board of Directors, in a press release. “(Ulmer’s) combination of experience, results and drive makes him an ideal candidate for Healthcare Network today and for our next stages of growth.”

Health Care Network Community Health Workers prepare for a COVID-19 testing event on Wednesday August 4, 2021 in Immokalee.

Ulmer comes to Collier from Marion County where he served as the general manager of Heart of Florida for the past four years. Heart of Florida shares the same mission as Healthcare Network to serve the needy and is a federally licensed health center.

Ulmer said he jumped at the chance to interview for the position at Healthcare Network, a process he said began in late February and ended in May.

Working at Heart of Florida prepared him to lead Healthcare Network, he said.

The Nichols Community Health Center in Golden Gate opened on June 2, 2020.

When he started at Heart of Florida in 2018, the center had 19,000 patients a year and it grew to 30,000 patients during his tenure, according to the Ocala Star Banner.

“It was a great stepping stone and paved the way to being here,” he said.

His first week of work

He praised the Health Network’s board of directors for their concern to find someone suitable for the position.

“I know it’s the right choice and the time has come,” he said.

He plans to spend two to three days a week in Immokalee, where Healthcare Network was launched 45 years ago, because it is in the migrant farmworker community where the need is greatest to fill the gaps in health care. ‘Health care access.

He has been busy meeting with community leaders, which so far includes Eileen Connolly-Keesler, president and CEO of the Collier Community Foundation.

“I’m thrilled to be working with (him),” she said in an email. “He knows very well how to connect the health care network to the needs of the community and will be a great asset to us in Collier County.”

While fundraising is important for nonprofits like Healthcare Network, the organization’s true mission is to care for the underserved, Ulmer said.

Guest review:“It has been a true privilege to serve as CEO of Healthcare Network”

“We never want to lose sight of that,” he said. “One of my strengths is vision. I bring vision and the ability to execute and accomplish things in a relatively short period of time.

One service that the health care system does not currently provide, but needs, is drug treatment for people with addiction problems.

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He has started talking to staff about it, which he says will take some work to get started, but the staff who will be involved already have their licenses with the US Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe controlled substances.

“We have to get into this,” he said.

What is his background?

Ulmer said he’s known for some time that when he plans to retire, which would be a second time after retiring from a military career, he wants to live somewhere between Tampa and Naples.

However, he said he sees himself staying with Healthcare Network for 10 to 15 years.

That’s about as long as a CEO should stay in an organization, which is best for the organization.

“You need fresh ideas,” he said.

While at Heart of Florida, he increased the organization’s operating budget from $8 million to over $30 million and established an elder care contract to serve center patients living in a assisted living facilities and nursing care nearby. The project generated over $3 million in revenue in its first year.

It opened four pharmacies and a stand-alone pharmacy so patients could have drive-up access and after-hours service. The pharmacies made $4 million in revenue in the first year.

Ulmer served in the US Army for 24 years with multiple deployments. He retired from active duty in 2013 as an Executive/Operations Officer at Fort Bragg, NC He also served as Public Health Administrator for the Army at Fort Jackson, SC

Additionally, he worked for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control as the State Public Health Administrator for Children’s Emergency Medical Services. He was recruited for the position of Chief Operating Officer of Rural Health Services, a federally qualified health center in Aiken, SC

He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from South Carolina State University and a master’s degree in human resource development and health services management from Webster University in St. Louis.

He serves on several committees of the Florida Association of Community Health Centers, which represents the interests of community organizations such as Healthcare Network. He is an active member of the National Association of Community Health Centers.