Meet Elizabeth “Eli” Diez: Clinic Operations Leader at Oak Lane

October 11, 2017  |  Author: CityLife Neighborhood Clinics  |  


Hi, Eli!  Tell us what you do at Oak Lane.

I’m the Clinic Operations Leader. I do my best to make sure everything runs smoothly, and I work closely with our doctor, Valerie. We’re a partnership. We want our office to feel like a home away from home for patients, so I try to make sure it operates, feels, and looks that way. I also support the team – I’ll step in and do (almost) anything. I want my team to feel like they have someone they can lean on. I do my best to be that person.

Before moving into this position, I was a Health Coach and before that, I was on the Community Outreach team. I still step in to do some Health Coach duties and community events, too.

What are your Health Coach duties?

When Valerie needs my help, I step in and work with members. I mostly handle the social support aspects. For example, two weeks ago a woman came in and wanted to be seen. It turned out that her health insurance had expired. She was uninsured – and had no idea. I helped her call Health Partners for an exception so that she could get back onto her plan. Now, she comes to CityLife! Healthcare is complicated, and I work with our members to try to make it as easy as possible for them. I remind them that they’re not in this alone, and that they have a team who is going to advocate for them.  

How long have you worked at CityLife?    

I’ve been with CityLife since August 2015. Since then, I have worked in all four CityLife locations! This past July I transitioned to Clinic Operations Leader here at Oak Lane. I used to hop between all CityLife locations, but now I’m here at Oak Lane full-time.  

What do patients call you?

Eli. It’s pronounced like “Ellie.”

Tell me about one of your most rewarding days at CityLife.  

I’ve had so many of them! When I first started with CityLife we went to independent senior living apartment buildings to talk to the residents about what we were doing at CityLife, and how we could help them improve their health. I met a woman who hadn’t been to a doctor in two years. She had a lump on her breast that had been there for quite some time, but she was afraid to get it checked out. I spoke with her for a while, and she ended up making an appointment with us and becoming a member. It turns out she had breast cancer.  I was happy that we were there to help her, and make her feel like she wasn’t alone. I think about her every day.  

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Miami. My parents are Cuban, so I’m Cuban-American.

How did you end up working in health and wellness?

I’m a first-generation college graduate. I studied journalism and sociology at the University of Miami, because I was always interested in working with people.  I started reporting for the Miami Herald my junior year, covering all sorts of stories. Health has always piqued my interest, but health stories were usually assigned to more experienced reporters. I kept telling my editor how interested I was in writing a health story, and she finally said yes! She assigned me a story about an eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa. From that day forward, I continued writing for the health beat. I fell in love with hearing and telling peoples’ stories, but I wanted to do more.  My editor suggested I look into graduate school.  

I ended up enrolling in graduate school at Thomas Jefferson University, here in Philadelphia, where I received my Master of Public Health. Straight out of graduate school, I started working at CityLife.

What is your favorite thing about working at CityLife?

The members. Every single person that walks in this door has a story. I’m still a reporter at heart, so I always sit and talk with them about who they are, where they are from, how they ended up here, and what wisdom they have for me. I’ve embraced our members like they’re my family. Everything I do is with them in mind.

Since you are a former Health Coach, what are the top three things that anyone can do today to make a positive impact on their health?

Don’t smoke!

Move! Try to stay active. That doesn’t have to mean going to the gym, but make sure you’re up and moving.

And, find what motivates you. I think being passionate about something is very important to good health – whether it’s your family you’re passionate about, your friends, a book, your senior center. Whatever it is, be passionate about something, and let it move you.

You’ve worked in Philadelphia for four years now. What are your favorite things to do here?   

Philly has incredible food! I love finding new restaurants or specials and trying them out with my husband and friends.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about CityLife?

We meet people where they are. If someone needs to lose 100 pounds and is only ready to lose five, those five pounds are what we work on, and what we celebrate. We don’t push people to a limit they can’t reach, or that they’re not ready to reach. I think this helps us establish relationships that are different than the relationships most patients have had with their primary care doctors in the past. We’re real, we’re genuine, and we really care.  

You mentioned celebrating victories. How do you celebrate with patients?   

When I was a health Coach, I had a member who smoked and really wanted to quit. He tried for nine months, and finally succeeded! When he quit, I made him a certificate. Another time, one of our members needed help enrolling in SNAP benefits. When she got her benefits I gave her a little bag of groceries to get her started. I love doing things like that for members when I can.

What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?   

Oh my, this is a hard question! I was a competitive dancer for years, and still love to tap dance. That’s something most people who have met me in the last few years don’t know.

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