Irma Cota, MPH

President and CEO

Since 1997 Irma Cota has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of North County Health Services, a non-profit community health care organization providing health care in the north region of San Diego County.  NCHS serves more than 65,000 individuals annually at thirteen clinic locations, providing comprehensive medical, dental, mental health, as well as health education services and social services.   The access impact NCHS has in the community is reflected by the over 296,000 patient visits to vulnerable populations.   Most NCHS patients are below 100% of poverty and are primarily uninsured or are covered by government insurance.

In addition, Ms. Cota also oversees a number of community outreach programs and services among them are programs such as WIC nutrition program serving over 14,000 women and children as well as a county-wide HIV/Case Management program and an extensive community outreach and insurance enrollment programs.

Ms. Cota has experience in executive management, strategic planning, finance, and operational management in both the public and private health sector. Under Ms. Cota’s leadership NCHS has grown to expand healthcare access by growing the medical, dental and behavioral health services.  She oversees a budget $72+ million and a staff of more than 760.

Under her Ms. Cota’s leadership North County Health Services has grown from 5 health centers to 13 and now serving North San Diego area and South Riverside County.  Under her leadership NCHS has been the recipient of many awards, among them are Kaiser Permanente K- Star award, San Diego North Regional Economic Development Council Award for Healthcare, San Marcos Economic Development Corporation’s Economic Development Excellence (EDE), the San Marcos Chamber Business of the Year Award and the recipient of the Tri-City Medical Center Diversity and inclusion in recognition of its employment diversity and collaborations.  Under her leadership NCHS has received several UT “Best Places to Work At” recognitions; in 2016 and 2017 it received the Peter Barron Stark Workplace Excellence award.

Ms. Cota serves in the Board of Directors for The Elizabeth Hospice, Board of Directors for Integrated Health Partners and The Latino Health Coalition of California. She serves in a number of Advisory Boards among them City National Bank Advisory Board, the CSUSM University Council and the Pal.  In addition Ms. Cota serves in a number of Advisory Boards such as two Schools of Public Health; SDSU and CSUSM. As needed she serves in Ad-Hoc Advisory Boards and Committees with the California Primary Care Association.

Ms. Cota holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from San Diego State University, and three certificates in health administration from various institutions:  John’s Hopkins University School of Public Health, UCSD School of Management, Harvard Business School of Management, and UCLA Anderson School of Business.

Ms. Cota has received many recognitions, most recently the National Association of Community Clinics Outstanding Achievement Award and the California Primary Care Association 2017 “Clinic Legacy Award”.  Others include the 2016 SDSU Cesar Chavez Legacy award, the 2014 Union Tribune Healthcare Latino Champion Award.  During her tenure at North County Health Services she received multiple awards for her leadership; among them are:  The “Women who Mean Business,” award, and finalist for “Most Admired CEO” in 2009 and 2017 by The San Diego Business JournalNorth San Diego Lifestyle magazine’s nomination as one of the region’s “50 People to watch”; she also received the “Woman of Distinction” by the Oceanside Soroptimist Club and the Woman of Merit award from the North County Times.

In 2003 she received San Diego County’s Public Health Champion Award and in 1993, the “Distinguished Alumni” from SDSU School of Public Health.


Corporate Executive Team


Patrick-5146_ls_squareDr. Patrick Tellez, MD, MPH, MSHA

Chief Medical Officer

With over 30 years of healthcare industry experience, Dr. Patrick Tellez serves as the Chief Medical Officer at NCHS and holds a wealth of experience as a practicing physician, but also brings a robust background in Health Care Administration. Dr. Tellez graduated from the University of Minnesota School Of Medicine and is boarded in Pediatrics and Immunology & Allergy. He holds a Masters in Public Health from UCLA and Master of Science in Health Administration from the University of Colorado.

In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Tellez received the 2012 Award for Clinical Quality Improvement, Colorado Primary Care Association and the American Medical Association. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the San Diego Medical Society, and Delegate to the California Medical Association. In his free time he enjoys hiking, fitness, music and bonsai.



Diezel-4799_ls_webDeizel Sarte, BSN, MAS

Chief Clinical Operations Officer

Deizel Sarte is the Chief Clinical Operations Officer at NCHS and boasts a 26 year-long career as a healthcare professional. True to her motto, ‘once a nurse, always a nurse’ she began her healthcare path as a nurse’s assistant at the early age of 19, and by 21 became an RN for Children’s Hospital. Deizel received her Master’s in Advanced Studies in the Leadership of Healthcare Organizations from UCSD.

After over a decade of serving children and families in the hospital setting she decided to bring her compassion and expertise to NCHS – and has never looked back. In just a few short years Deizel not only earned the honor of Nurse of the Year but in her time at NCHS, she grew from overseeing the health centers to taking a lead role in administration. Under Deizel’s leadership, we adopted the electronic health and dental records, patient centered medical home (PCMH) transformation, the opening of our newest health centers, successful provider recruitment just to name a few. In her spare time Deizel enjoys time with family, traveling, concerts, reading novels and dancing.



Kathy-4925_smallKathy Martinez

Chief Financial Officer

Kathy Martinez is the Chief Financial Officer at NCHS and enjoys a robust 17-year history at NCHS, where she began as a Staff Accountant. Kathy has enjoyed an impressive 30-year career covering a wide range of industries, before calling NCHS ‘home’.

After other experiences in the oil, agriculture management and public accounting industries, she discovered her passion for the non-profit world and the specialty that lies within accounting for a Federally-Qualified Health Center. In addition to helping NCHS earn a stellar financial reputation industry-wide, she has also earned her a CPCA CFO training certificate. When she’s not crunching the numbers, Kathy enjoys spending time with family and friends, relaxing sunny days on the beach with a good book and doing ceramic arts and crafts.


Michelle_webMichelle D. Gonzalez, MPA

Chief Business Development Officer

Michelle Gonzalez is the Chief Business Development Officer at NCHS. Nearly 15 years ago, she began her career as a Program Coordinator, implementing innovative solutions and key development strategies from the start. Michelle holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration as well as a certificate in the Not-For-Profit Management Development Program through the Harvard Business School, San Diego Chapter. In her rapid rise to Executive Management, Michelle has impacted significant areas of the organization including program planning, workforce development, clinical operations, as well as community relations and strategic planning. Some of her most impactful and shining achievements include the creation and centralization of the patient call center, planning and expansion of new clinic locations, multi-million dollar grant oversight and award-winning marketing programs, all of which served to grow both revenue and market share.

In her current role as Chief Business Development Officer, she continues to champion the “Building Great Relationships” cultural and customer service initiative she brought to life, which the organization operates by daily. In addition, she is most known for developing organizational strategies that have exploded business growth in critical areas including Communications, Marketing & Outreach, Community Engagement, Planning & Grants and Patient Engagement & Retention. The success of these key areas illustrates her strategic and forward thinking to further NCHS’ competitive edge. When she’s not developing strategic plans, Michelle loves to spend as much time as possible with her husband and their two young children.


Mike Deleon-20198_squareMike De Leon

VP Facilities & Purchasing

Mike De Leon is the Vice President of Facilities & Purchasing at NCHS and has been in healthcare procurement and facilities for over 25 years in the San Diego County area. Mike began his journey at NCHS as a shipping receiving clerk 24 years ago. He was instrumental in a multitude of NCHS projects throughout the years, most recently with the building of Mission Mesa Pediatrics, a $7.7 million project he helped complete on time and under budget.

Because of his dedication to excellence and level of expertise here at NCHS, Mike has been awarded Employee of the Year four times and his department has also received Department of the Year. He has served as an advisory board member at CSUSM for facility safety, is a member of the National Association of Purchasing Managers and is a certified NIMS trainer for disaster preparedness. In his personal time, Mike enjoys classic cars and industrial art.