Davis, CA — Robin Affrime, Chief Executive Officer of CommuniCare Health Centers, has announced her retirement this October from a career that began 35 years ago and culminated in her tenure as CEO for the past 19 years. “I walked into the clinic, then known as the Davis Free Clinic, to see if they could find work for me as a part-time volunteer during my pregnancy,” she says, adding, “It was my lucky day, because I found a home doing the work I love.”
During Robin’s time with CommuniCare, the organization has grown from a mostly volunteer organization with fewer than ten employees to a workforce of 300 employees; from providing 5,000 patient visits a year to providing over 133,000 visits a year to nearly 27,000 patients; and from a single clinic site in Davis to locations throughout the region in seven communities. Today, CommuniCare is recognized as one of the leading community health centers in California, with three primary care health centers in Davis, Woodland and West Sacramento and five satellite sites throughout the area offering comprehensive primary medical, dental and perinatal care, behavioral health services and treatment for substance use disorders, and wellness and health promotion through outreach in the community.”
Robin has been an active leader in the community health networks, both regionally and state-wide, seeing the role of community health centers like CommuniCare change and grow over the decades from being a provider of last resort for the low income and uninsured to become providers of choice and an integral part of the health care delivery system. Under her watch, CommuniCare has remained dedicated to the mission that Dr. John H. Jones set for the organization when he founded the Davis Free Clinic: to provide comprehensive and high quality health care to anyone in our community regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.
“One of the things I have loved most about my job is advocating for health centers to get the funding and the policies that most benefit the needs of our patients,” says Robin. “It is important to be vocal so that the leaders in Sacramento and Washington, DC know that health care is a right and not a privilege.”
Robin likes to tell new employees of the time that she encountered a woman in the waiting room at the Davis Community Clinic whom she first met 20 years ago when the woman, a recent immigrant and mother to a young baby, came to the free clinic for help with her child who was crying all the time and she didn’t know what to do. Recognizing Robin, the woman called her over and said, “I didn’t know what to do, but you and the other staff took care of me and my baby. Thank you again.”
“I say to everyone here, all the time, ‘You never know whose life you’re going touch.’ We are here to help. We are truly mission-driven.”
Dr. Melissa Marshall, a family practice physician and CommuniCare’s current Chief Medical Officer, has been selected by CommuniCare’s Board of Directors to succeed Robin as CEO. “I have great confidence in Dr. Marshall’s ability to lead CommuniCare,” says Robin, adding, “She has the vision and understanding of the complex issues facing health centers that is necessary to assure continuity of our services to the community.”