OPCA Annual Awards of Excellence: Innovation & Transformation in Leadership

KC Bolton (he/him), CEO, Aviva Health

A Federally Qualified Health Center located in Roseburg, Oregon, Aviva Health provides medical, dental, behavioral health, women’s and reproductive health, and pediatric care from nine sites of service to the people of Douglas County. KC joined the health center as CEO in 2016 and has brought stability, transformative leadership, and strategic guidance to the organization.

He is a true servant leader who tends to the needs of the staff and Board of Directors, believing in the value of taking care of the employees who live and breathe the Aviva Health mission of caring for the people of Douglas County by providing quality, compassionate, accessible, and affordable healthcare.

“Leave your ego at the door,” KC often says, a reminder to staff that Aviva Health and its purpose in the community are much larger than any single person. The culture the organization nurtures and the care Aviva Health delivers to children and adults in the community is owned by each one of the more than 300 individuals who work here, known affectionately as Avivans. In the nearly seven years KC has led Aviva Health, the organization has grown intentionally and smartly to fill gaps in care that exist across Douglas County.

Among his first orders of business, KC focused his attention on building relationships with and showing appreciation for staff. He began holding what’s known to Avivans as a Victory Lap, a special yet informal monthly after-work gathering at a local restaurant to celebrate the achievements of individual departments and thank staff for their contributions. Departments are selected on a rotating basis. Staff are encouraged to bring their significant others and family members to join in the celebration, which includes hearty appetizers and drinks. During the Victory Lap team members can connect with Aviva Health senior leaders who also attend. KC makes a point to acknowledge the team and individuals who comprise it for the positive impact they have on the organization.

While work conversations aren’t the focus of the gatherings they often happen organically. Staff often share personal insights about their experience at Aviva Health, feedback that has served as the catalyst for impactful change not just for individual departments but across the entire organization. For senior leaders, Victory Lap is an opportunity to share gratitude and appreciation on a personal level. The event is not budgeted by the organization – KC and his wife Shelley personally cover the cost of Victory Lap. This is one example of many innovations KC has brought to Aviva Health in an intentional effort to build morale and infuse the organizational culture with positivity. The results speak for themselves: After several second-place finishes in The News-Review Readers’ Choice Awards for Favorite Place to Work, Aviva Health for the past three years has notched first-place finishes in the category, recognition for which the organization is very proud.

KC has also made it a strategic priority for Aviva Health to address critical gaps in the county’s health care delivery system and strengthen partnerships with other community-based organizations.

Examples include:
• A partnership with Douglas Public Health Network – the county’s public health authority – to offer sexually transmitted infection testing, immunizations, and reproductive health services at variety of Aviva Health clinic locations across the region.
• The opening of Aviva Health’s North County Clinic which brought critical primary care services to a location once recognized by the Oregon Office of Rural Health as the area of greatest unmet health needs in the entire state.
• The opening of Aviva Health’s Myrtle Creek Dental Clinic, the only dental provider in town to accept Medicaid patients

• Under KC’s guidance, Aviva Health, in partnership with CHI Mercy Health Mercy Medical Center, launched Douglas County’s only family medicine residency program in 2020. The program recently graduated its first class of family medicine doctors, three of whom are staying in Oregon to practice.
• After a long and fruitful partnership with Area Health Education Center Southwest, KC chose to fortify Aviva Health’s relationship with the local branch of the health care education and workforce development agency by adding it as an official action arm of Aviva Health, allowing for tighter and intentional integration between the two entities.
• COVID-19 response:
oAviva Health, in partnership with several other agencies and organizations, held several mass-vaccination events across the county, including the very first one at Douglas County Fairgrounds
where more than 600 individuals received the COVID-19 vaccination in a single day.
o KC was selected as the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team Incident Commander by the Douglas County Commissioners, leading planning efforts for local COVID-19 response in cooperation with a variety of other health care and community-based organizations.
o Aviva Health leased space adjacent to its main Roseburg campus in which it operated a dedicated vaccination and drive-through testing clinic.
o In the middle of the pandemic, Aviva Health was assigned two mobile medical units (MMUs) by the Douglas County Commissioners which were used to offer vaccination and testing services in
remote areas of the county. The larger of the two MMUs was also used to stand up a pre-emergency department triage operation just outside the CHI Mercy Health Mercy Medical Center emergency room, effectively redirecting COVID-19 positive patients whose symptoms could be managed effectively in an outpatient setting and protecting the hospital’s inpatient and emergency department capacity in the midst of the delta surge.
o Aviva Health opened an acute care clinic, providing an area dedicated to COVID-19 treatment, greatly reducing the risk to other patients and staff.
• Aviva Health’s main Roseburg facility is on the Jerry Bruce Community Campus, where it is co-located with four other non-profit organizations – Family Development Center, FISH Food Pantry, UHI (formerly Umpqua Homes, Inc.), and United Community Action Network (UCAN). It’s long been KC’s vision to strengthen relationships between the campus partners who serve many of the same constituents across the community. To that end, KC assembled a campus leadership committee to discuss actionable points of collaboration, ensuring that on the Jerry Bruce Community Campus “there is no wrong door,” meaning no matter what organization is the first point of contact with an individual or family, if other needs exist that can be addressed by a partner agency, a warm handoff occurs.
• With the news of recent local Bi-Mart pharmacy closures, Aviva Health opened an in-house pharmacy within its main Roseburg location’s footprint, providing increased and more direct access to prescription services for patients.

KC’s servant leadership and innovative strategy of “going places others won’t go and doing things others won’t do” has greatly enhanced access to important services for underserved Douglas County residents while at the same time building a positive organizational culture that continues to attract employees whose heart is focused on the mission of Aviva Health, transformative accomplishments that position the organization for continued success.

Submission written by Mike Durbin, Deputy Chief of Clinical Operations, Aviva Health