Desiree Otenti, MSN, MPH, recently joined Codman’s Board of Directors and brings with her advanced practice nursing experience, deep knowledge of vulnerable populations, and management and insurance expertise. Her unique experience and perspective will be a valuable addition to the board, which is comprised of patients, community members, and experts in the health care field.
Otenti studied biology in college, but it was an early experience that drove her to want to help others. She recalls when she was 8 years old her father, born in India, took her on a trip to visit family in his home country. While shocked by the poverty in general, she was particularly moved by an elderly man sitting in the hot sun begging for money. Her father wondered aloud why no one helped move the man to the shade. Desiree remembered thinking “Why don’t we help him?” That memory and the feeling of wanting to help people in need remains with her today.Once she graduated, she decided to combine her passion for science with her life-long desire to help people.
Desiree continued her education and became a nurse practitioner. She started to practice at our fellow community health center – Boston Health Care for the Homeless. Here she gained a lot of medical experience, and also got to know a very vulnerable population of patients. She later went back to school to study Public Health, focusing on policy and management. “I realized that helping patients one-on-one was meaningful, but using the knowledge I gained from patient care to help create patient-centered policies would be more impactful. I wanted to help a population of people all at once,” she says.
She has served as the director of case management at Boston Health Care for the Homeless, and eventually became a senior clinical manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts where she is now their senior director of medical policy. “It’s been eye opening to see the health care system from this bigger-picture view. Health care resources are limited, so it’s increasingly important to make sure the right patients are getting the right treatments that will actually improve their health outcomes.”
In this current role, Desiree oversees the review of medical literature that examines which new medical devices, drugs, and procedures are most effective for which patients. With that information, BCBSMA can create criteria about which patients receive certain services. “We look at the studies product manufacturers conduct to get FDA approval and ask – does this study prove that this device actually makes the patient have a better health outcome?” she says.
Desiree also volunteers for BCBS’s Women’s Inclusion Network. As a past president, she continues to organize programs and events for the female BCBS staff.
In the summer of 2019, Desiree learned about the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors of Codman, and was happy to become a part of team Codman. “Between my ongoing work as a nurse practitioner taking care of vulnerable patients and my work on the payer side, I have a unique perspective of the health care field – the forest and the trees,” she says. “I hope to use this knowledge to help continue to position CSHC as a leader in the heaLth care industry, not only as a model for other community health centers, but as a beacon for the industry as a whole. CSHC has a holistic view of health that goes beyond the stethoscope and clinic door, which complements her talents..
Desiree says that she is still trying to learn as much as possible about the health center, its staff, board, and aspirations. She is committed to working with Codman in its role of keeping the community healthy. She says she doesn’t think that the current status quo of health care delivery does that, but is impressed with Codman’s work thus far in making positive change.
“CSHC has a history of exploring outside of the box ways to bring health and wellness beyond the clinic doors. I want to continue to explore new models of care delivery, new ideas around what actually makes a community healthy, and new partnerships to deepen CSHC’s impact for the people we serve.”