Preston Choctaw has lived in the county with his wife and three sons for 16 years and they are happy to be close to family both in the city and Tijuana.
He comes from a small town southeast of Los Angeles. His father was a physician and community leader and his mother founded a foster family service agency and was always involved in social work. Their impact on his life led him to SDSU where he combined both the social service and clinical aspirations of his parents, receiving two master’s degrees, one in social work and the other in public health.
Choctaw was recently hired as the new center director for St. Paul’s PACE El Cajon. St. Paul’s Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly is a medical program for low-income seniors with chronic medical conditions that cares for seniors so they can remain living in their homes longer. The program offers primary medical care, rehabilitation therapies, social services, home care, transportation and more.
Choctaw began his career in quality improvement with insurance companies and managed quality of patient care, performance measures, profit, improvement and other aspects of health plans.
When Choctaw was promoted to manager of appeal and denials, he said it was tough because in health insurance there are tighter restrictions and criteria.
“There is a lot of bureaucracy on the insurance side. I was used to that, but I always wanted to be on the provider side,” he said.
He said PACE’s “beautiful symmetry” between the provider side and the insurance side was a perfect fit for him and he was happy to finally be serving the vulnerable population of seniors.
“With insurance and providers there is typically friction there,” he said. “Sometimes it is the patient who gets the short end of the stick. PACE is both the insurer and the provider, so it blends everything together and really focuses on the participants (seniors). That is why I became involved with PACE.”
Choctaw was hired first as PACE’s quality insurance manager in 2018, and now in his new role he is responsible for the overall management of the center to ensure seniors receive the qualify of care and supportive services they need.
“As a center director, I believe I will have greater impact,” he said. I looked at our own internal processes first, getting a real understanding of how our flow works, who is responsible for what, how we are doing basically and how are our outcomes.”
Choctaw said he wants participants to live life as best they can, in their homes with all the health and supportive services they need for the best quality of life.
“That is what the endgame is for me,” he said. “We have our clinic where we see to their healthcare needs and we have our social workers. With all the services we provide, what is key is when you get the social and clinical aspects together, it is seamless. They are making decisions that are best for the participant with their input. That is how you get quality of life for our participants.”