The UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation elected registered nurse and health attorney Terry Leach as its first executive director last Wednesday.

Leach, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from California State University Sacramento and a law degree from UC Berkeley, will begin her three-year term tomorrow having trained as the interim director for the past seven months. Armed with eight years of work in the health policy sector, Leach has represented hospitals and medical staffs and has served as the health policy manager for the UC Office of the President since 2007. In addition to her work as a health attorney and nurse, Leach has also worked as a health policy consultant, instructor and manager.

In a statement released last week, Leach said the innovations made possible through the new entity will improve state healthcare, possibly extending to the national level.

“I’m honored to be appointed executive director of UC’s Center for Health Quality and Innovation,” Leach said in a press release last week. “UC clinicians, staff and researchers have many great ideas for delivering care that is better, safer and less costly. The center will work to foster collaborations that develop innovations to transform care for Californians and serve as a national model.”

The facility was established last October and supports the development of medical innovations at UC health campuses in order to improve the access and quality of medical care.

With five academic medical centers, 10 hospitals and 16 health professional schools, UC Health runs the nation’s largest health sciences training program and California’s fourth-largest health care delivery system, making the center a vital resource to the UC system. The UCCHQI received $5 million in startup funds, consisting of $1 million from each of the UC medical centers Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

During a UC Newsroom Q&A session, Leach said she will focus on raising average medical standards and transforming health care system operations.

“My priorities are to create a pathway by which we can integrate quality improvement and the enhancement of value into our everyday provision of care,” Leach said. “This will mean that we will need to think not of ‘one-off’ enhancements and interventions to improve care but systemic changes we can undertake to create a deliberate culture of improvement.”

—Staff Report