Doctor shows commitment to community, profession - Albuquerque Journal

Doctor shows commitment to community, profession

Excellence Award: Dr. Martin Hickey, CEO, True Health New Mexico

Dr. Martin Hickey, CEO of True Health New Mexico

Dr. Martin Hickey’s Uptown office is simply New Mexico. The walls are filled with Hickey’s photos of the Southwest, while massive windows to the north and east showcase the glowing Sandia Mountains.

The setting is ideal for Hickey, as it displays his love for New Mexico and its people. This love transforms into Hickey’s hope for the best health care for New Mexicans. As chief executive officer of True Health New Mexico, he leads the company’s mission to keep New Mexicans healthy utilizing a physician-led health plan. This position brings together Hickey’s love of the state and his commitment to his chosen profession.

A native of Illinois, Hickey has a long and legendary career in health care in New Mexico and the Southwest. Starting as a medical anthropologist he was able to land a position alongside a medicine man in Arizona after traveling to India, Nepal and the South Pacific as part of his research. While working with the medicine man, he started to run short on funds.

“I called up the closest clinic and asked if they allowed medical students to come,” Hickey recalled. “…that is how I got started and while there I fell in love with the Southwest. I loved it out there.”

He soon joined the staff of the clinic and spent seven years with Indian Health Service, providing medical care for Navajos in Kayenta near Monument Valley in Arizona. “We used to provide medical care for car wrecks, trauma and babies, you just had to do it,” Hickey recalled. “It was a tremendous experience.”

Hickey also incorporated a variety of health programs into the area expanding on the Navajos’ traditional healing.

“Our health status really has to do with how we take care of ourselves. And how we take care of ourselves is about the people around (us).”

He eventually served as medical director for Indian Health Services on the Navajo Reservation. He incorporates that experience to True Health New Mexico’s mission.

“I wouldn’t be sitting here had I not had that experience,” Hickey said. “What I learned back then is if you help people take care of themselves and reach out and support them people will be healthier.”

He has held management stints at University of New Mexico Hospital, Lovelace Health Systems and the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center.

He leads True Health New Mexico with a gentle and caring spirit.

“True Health is a small, innovative, dynamic health plan based on Dr. Hickey’s vision for health,” said Lydia T. Ashanin, True Health’s senior director of marketing and communication. “This plan works with providers to ensure that members are getting the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”

Ashanin said that Hickey leads the group of more than 70 employees by empowering them. Her statement was echoed by one of the many nominations Hickey received in the Albuquerque Journal’s Top CEOs awards.

“Dr. Martin Hickey is very transparent,” said one employee. “He keeps his employees apprised on the overall organizational functions. He leads by example with an open-door policy. He has a cheerful personality and finds humor in many things. I am honored to have Dr. Martin Hickey as my CEO!”

Ashanin said, “I know a lot of people here nominated Dr. Hickey… He has a holistic view of health care integrating the behavioral, social and physical health.”

Because of that, True Health has been able to lower emergency room visits by taking care of health at the forefront.

“This is a really tough business,” Hickey said. “We are one of the surviving co-ops. These employees support this vision and show grit.”

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