ACHD Annual Awards 2021


CONTACT: Cathy Martin
(916) 266-5277

The Association of California Healthcare Districts Recognizes Top Healthcare Leaders
California healthcare district CEO, trustee and district of the year announced

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 28, 2021 – The Association of California Healthcare Districts (ACHD) recently recognized three leaders in health care during its 69th Annual Meeting: Recover, Refocus and Adapt. Beach Cities Health District was recognized as Healthcare District of the Year; Diane Hansen of Palomar Health was named CEO of the Year; and Carmina Zavala of the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation was named Trustee of the Year.

The honorees were evaluated based on their contributions to the communities they serve including, dedication to both preventive care and crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year’s recipients are incredibly dedicated to their employees and communities. During these challenging times in health care, they continue to provide unwavering support and leadership,” said Cathy Martin, CEO of ACHD. “We are honored to celebrate these healthcare districts who have been serving on the frontlines of the pandemic, while also maintaining their commitment to provide access to health and wellness services in their communities.”

Read more about each distinguished honoree:

District of the Year: Beach Cities Health District

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Beach Cities Health District instituted the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in March 2020, as well as activated its District Operations Center (DOC) to better respond to the situation in the Beach Cities, optimizing its emergency response.

Beach Cities Health District also focused its emergency response efforts on the health and well-being of their community by creating a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site, supporting residents by expanding its errand assistance and meal delivery program as well as providing timely COVID-19 information on multiple accessible platforms.

CEO of the Year: Diane Hansen, Palomar Health

In Diane Hansen’s three and a half years as CEO at Palomar Health, she has revived the district from financial instability, transforming it into the distinguished integrated health care delivery system it is today. Hansen is dedicated to expanding services, increasing community engagement and unifying local medical groups and resources to respond to patient needs.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hansen has been actively involved with county and state government agencies, advocating for resources and ensuring preparedness. Thanks to her efforts, Palomar Medical Center Escondido was chosen to be one of only a few Federal Medical Stations (FMS) in California.

In addition to these accomplishments, Hansen also enhanced Palomar Health’s quality of care to an award-winning status, increased job opportunities and implemented a Palomar Health Crisis Stabilization Unit to respond to the behavioral health crisis in the community.

Trustee of the Year: Carmina Zavala, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation

Shortly after joining the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation board of directors, Carmina Zavala dedicated herself to supporting the district’s mission of increasing health care access for all community members. Zavala worked on the frontlines alongside staff and volunteers who were managing the district’s mobile COVID-19 testing site, spending hours registering and supporting residents in need of COVID-19 tests.

As a bilingual native, Zavala brings to the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation board an understanding of the diverse community of the Coachella Valley, which includes a significant Spanish-speaking population. She continues to advocate for holistic health care access for her community as her district expands its behavioral health capabilities through its $2 million behavioral health initiative.

Applications were evaluated and honorees were selected by an independent panel of judges including Lisa Maas, Executive Director of Californians Allied for Patient Protection, Kyle Packham, Advocacy & Public Affairs Director of the California Special Districts Association and Larry Walker, President of the Walker Company.



The Association of California Healthcare Districts (ACHD) represents Healthcare Districts throughout California. ACHD works with numerous state and local entities to promote the profound role Healthcare Districts play in responding to the specialized health needs of tens of millions of Californians while also having direct accountability to the communities that Districts serve.

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