After nearly a year of searching, New Jersey’s Camden Coalition has picked a new CEO. Kathleen Noonan, who founded Policy Lab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, will replace Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, who started the coalition in 2002.
A network of more than 30 health care providers, advocates and hospitals in Southern New Jersey, the Camden Coalition began as a breakfast group that Brenner convened to figure out how to bring integrated care to patients who need it most. He ran a primary care practice, and he noticed that a small group of patients accounted for most of the hospital visits and resulting medical expenses in the system. He designed the coalition to try to shift the model of care — and costs — to meet the needs of those “complex” patients.
Brenner also pioneered a model of health care “hotspotting,” using data from hospital medical records to locate and target the patients who use certain health care systems most often, such as the emergency room. His work earned him a MacArthur fellowship — or genius grant — and he recently took a job with United HealthCare to pilot integrative health programs that bring health care inside housing, transportation and other social services.
Noonan, who will begin her role next month, is a lawyer who has worked with the Camden Coalition as a consultant through PolicyLab, a research arm of CHOP. She helped the coalition codify its patient engagement model so that it could be replicated nationwide.
Victor Murray, director for care management at the coalition, said it’s the combination of big-picture thinking and interpersonal skills that made Noonan stand out during their year-long search for a new leader.
“She has that understanding on what it takes to move people on the one-on-one, working with individuals, but also on the systems level,” said Murray, who grew up in Camden.
Noonan said she’s used to bridging that gap.
“I have always been a lawyer working with social workers, or been a lawyer working, most recently at CHOP, with a lot of physicians or nurses and other clinicians. So I always had somewhat of a translational role in my career,” she said.
Noonan has also worked as mediator in public-impact class-action lawsuits surrounding issues such as children’s Medicaid access.