Elnora Cameron

Elnora Cameron Dives into Retirement

She was on a dive in the Caribbean the first time she encountered an eagle ray. Everyone else in the party was focused on sharks circling the area, but not Elnora Cameron.

“I fell in love,” she said. “I remember getting out of the water and crying, it was so beautiful and graceful.” She made a decision that day, to focus on saving endangered sea life, particularly eagle rays, manta rays and other types of rays — at least when she was not working her full-time job as president of NorthBay Healthcare Advantage and vice president of NorthBay Healthcare strategic planning.

On June 28, she retired after 32-plus years at NorthBay Healthcare.

She arrived in 1987 just after VacaValley Hospital and NorthBay Cancer Center opened. Her focus was strategy and business development — with a staff of just three people. A few years later, her duties expanded to managed care, which involves negotiating contracts with insurance companies, and creating some of the best contracts in the state, which helped NorthBay Healthcare maintain its independence.

By 1995, she was ready to take on another bold experience: Creation of a health plan for local business owners and individuals interested in affordable, responsive health coverage. “We had the opportunity to see other insurance programs launch and disappoint. We were ready to tackle it in a unique way,” she recalled.

NorthBay teamed up with UC Davis Health System and Mercy/ Dignity Health in 1996 to create Western Health Advantage (WHA) to focus on being local and friendly to provider systems.

In addition to strategic development, she took on NorthBay Health Advantage and guided a team of 60-plus. She made big changes on a small canvass.

“Becoming a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network helped NorthBay garner the stature it deserves. We really are the most sophisticated health care system in Solano County,” she said, pointing to examples of cutting edge medicine in the NorthBay Cancer Center, the Center for Heart & Vascular and the Center for Neuroscience, to name a few. “Some people think NorthBay is small. Well, I relish that underdog role.”

Gary Passama, retired president and CEO of NorthBay Healthcare, said, “She made every NorthBay strategic planning process distinctive, employing innovative and novel devices to encourage outside-the-box thinking.”

Current President and CEO Konard Jones agreed. “She deserves the undying gratitude of those who worked with her, and those who will work after her and benefit from her vision, leadership and unending zeal for doing what is best for patients who put their lives in our hands.”