Appreciation of Leeba Lessin

LeebaYesterday we lost Leeba Lessin, a giant of health care. Leeba was a visionary leader who inspired new ways of thinking about care for the elderly, and successfully executed those ideas. As founder of Caremore, she created principles of whole-person care, she reimagined the relationship between patients and the health care system: Patients were empowered to strive for their own wellness and agency, but were not alone in a crisis.

Leeba’s model swept away much of the “medicalization” of social and practical needs that in many circumstances have become the hallmark of eldercare. Caremore saw to it that patients’ primary care needs were met, but it also attended to nonmedical factors that might stand in the way of good health. It partnered with families in a way that empowered them without overloading them, ensured that hospitalized patients received high-quality care and that care teams guaranteed continuity during the transition back to home. Leeba’s model exemplifies the kind of care we all want for our mother: simple, but not easy.

The Caremore model has inspired many Medicare Advantage plans that have adopted and adapted it. Leeba’s legacy will live on, in a way all of us in health care can be grateful for.

Those of us who were blessed to work with Leeba and who became her friends also know what a special person she was, even in her last days, sending us her reflections on the end of her life.

–Margaret E. Okane, NCQA President