A woman sitting on an exam table while a doctor examines her.
Lisa Price Stevens, M.D., (right) combined her administrative skills and health care policy experience with a return to clinical practice in February 2020 as regional chief medical officer for JenCare. (Courtesy of ChenMed)

Alum’s passion propels her from practice to policy … and back

Lisa Price Stevens returns to Virginia after participating in the nation’s first dual demo program for Medicare and Medicaid.

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You never know where Lisa Price Stevens will land. Her extensive career trajectory has taken her far and wide, from parking under bridges while working with the homeless to heading COVID immunization clinics for thousands, from coordinating perioperative services for a major health system to helming a dual demonstration program for Medicare and Medicaid that now is in use nationwide.

In her latest role, as a regional chief medical officer for JenCare Senior Medical Center in Norfolk, Virginia, Price Stevens has returned to her roots not only as a Virginia Beach native but as a clinician. It’s been an exciting journey thus far.

Price Stevens’ decision to become a doctor was cemented as a child when she watched her mother — a 1958 alumna of the Medical College of Virginia’s St. Philip School of Nursing — at work and then when, at age 9, Price Stevens herself helped save a young family member’s life. VCU’s Health Careers Opportunity Program — a precursor to the Summer Academic Enrichment Program — helped her choose to apply to the VCU School of Medicine.

Being a medical student taught Price Stevens “about why I truly wanted to become a physician – and perseverance,” she said.

From under the bridge to a seat at the table

Price Stevens practiced primary care in Norfolk early on but then “caught the public health bug.” Returning to the MCV Campus, she joined the Department of Internal Medicine, where she was asked to direct VCU Health’s Preoperative Assessment, Communication and Education Center.

Next up was a stint as medical director of The Daily Planet, a Richmond community health center. “Those were some of the best years,” Price Stevens said. She was especially interested in the integration of physical and behavioral health services for the underserved.

While there, Price Stevens and Daily Planet pharmacist Jean-Venable “Kelly” R. Goode, Pharm.D., created the Diabetes: Impact program that has been going strong since 2011.

“Lisa’s heart and passion for improving patient care are incredible,” said Goode, who directs VCU School of Pharmacy’s community-based pharmacy residency program. “But it goes beyond that, into innovation.”

A portrait of Lisa Price Stevens wearing a doctor's coat and a stethoscope around her neck
"The more I can learn and have a seat at the table, the more I can help people," said Lisa Price Stevens, M.D. (Courtesy of ChenMed)

The two did outreach in shelters, even under bridges. “She just radiates that mantra of leading where you stand,” Goode said. “Getting people to buy into a model is much easier if you are rolling up your sleeves, too.”

Within a couple of years, Price Stevens was recruited as medical director for a Boston-based dual demonstration program for Medicare and Medicaid, the country’s first. “That’s where I started getting heavily into administration, the business of medicine and health care policy,” she said. “I thought the more I can learn and have a seat at the table, the more I can help people.”

"The more I can learn and have a seat at the table, the more I can help people."

A new job, a new pandemic

Addressing health care disparities continues to be of primary importance to Price Stevens. And now, as a result of her leadership in the demo project, nearly every state in the country offers a dual program for underserved elderly patients. That includes Virginia, for whose first program Price Stevens left Boston to serve as chief medical officer.

Along the way, she managed to earn master’s degrees in business and public health and to have a family. “It takes a village,” she said, laughing. “I have lots of support.”

In 2020, having become interested in combining her administrative skills and health care policy experience with a return to clinical practice, Price Stevens came across ChenMed, a value-based, coordinated care program for seniors on Medicare. She was hired as regional chief medical officer for its subsidiary JenCare centers throughout Virginia – and came on board in February, mere weeks before the coronavirus hit.

She applauds JenCare for pivoting quickly so as to disrupt patient service as little as possible.

Credit goes to Price Stevens, too, said Shruthi Sambamoorthy, M.D., a JenCare regional medical director. “For her to come in during a pandemic, for a leader to be so strategic and critical in their thinking … that she kept the staff and patients safe, is a true testament to her leadership.

“Everyone has a different definition,” Sambamoorthy said, “but to me a leader is someone who truly has an inspiring vision and is able to coach and build a team effectively to achieve the vision. She does it effortlessly. Or if there is a lot of effort, it doesn’t show.”