CHCF’s Kelly Pfeifer Receives Public Health Award for Leadership in Fight Against Opioid Epidemic

Kelly Pfeifer, MD, who is director of High-Value Care for CHCF, is the recipient of the 2017 Beverlee A. Myers Award for Excellence in Public Health. It is the highest award presented annually by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to an individual exhibiting outstanding leadership and achieving notable accomplishments in public health in California.

Pfeifer is being honored for launching and leading CHCF’s opioid initiative, which is focused on reducing overdose deaths in California. She leads the foundation’s partnerships with health plans, medical and behavioral health providers, and government agencies to support concrete actions to end the epidemic: lowering opioid overprescribing, increasing access to effective addiction treatment, and ensuring that naloxone — the overdose antidote — is available when needed. Pfeifer launched programs to help clinics across the state integrate addiction treatment into primary care, and emulated successful coalitions in San Diego and Marin Counties to build the Opioid Safety Coalitions Network. More than 30 California counties, many with funding from CHCF, now have a local coalition actively working to lower overdose deaths in their communities.

Pfeifer is one of the people “leading the fight against the opioid epidemic,” said Karen Smith, MD, MPH, California Department of Public Health director and state public health officer. “I have been impressed with her sheer commitment and dedication, not only to address the opioid epidemic in California, but to wipe it out.”

“I am humbled by this acknowledgment,” said Pfeifer. “California is moving fast to prevent addiction and overdose deaths, and to treat the people harmed by the epidemic. So many smart and creative people are coming together in ways I have never seen before.”

“The passion, commitment, and energy Kelly brings to this important issue are impressive,” said Sandra R. Hernández, MD, president and CEO of CHCF. “The community coalition network she has spearheaded is seeing significant statewide reductions in opioid prescribing and increases in access to effective forms of treatment.”

Barely a year after the network’s inception, 90% of coalitions funded by CHCF have adopted safer prescribing guidelines in emergency departments and primary care, 75% have increased access to naloxone, and more than half have expanded provider use of medication-assisted addiction treatment.

Prior to joining CHCF, Pfeifer served as chief medical officer for the San Francisco Health Plan, a managed Medicaid health plan. She was also medical director at the Petaluma Health Center and continues to practice family medicine.

CDPH established this award in 1993 to honor the late Beverlee A. Myers. It reflects the leadership and dedication to public health improvement demonstrated throughout her 25-year career, including her service as director of the California Department of Health Services from 1978 to 1983.

Pfeifer will be presented with the award at a ceremony on Tuesday, April 4, in Sacramento to coincide with CDPH Public Health Week.

Contact Information:
Lisa Aliferis
Senior Communications Officer

About the California Health Care Foundation

The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.