Diana Shiba, president, Los Angeles County Medical Association.

Diana Shiba, president, Los Angeles County Medical Association.

Ophthalmologist Diana Shiba has been elected as the first Asian American woman president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, an advocacy organization of more than 7,000 physician members.

Shiba, 46, is also chief government relations officer and a regional assistant medical director for Southern California Permanente Medical Group, a for-profit organization of doctors who serve the 4.6 million members of the Southern California region health care network of Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente.

She also serves as a board member of the California Medical Association and on the executive committee of America’s Physician Groups.

Shiba took over as president of the 149-year-old Los Angeles County Medical Association on July 1, amid a surge in Covid-19 cases that has gripped the county, taxing physicians’ resources.

“In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s crucial for us to leverage the expertise and impact of our medical associations and our members,” Shiba said in a statement. “LACMA’s stature allows us to serve as a trusted resource for physicians, patients and policy makers, community organizations and the media. That includes supporting public health, targeting financial support for front-line community programs and medical practices, and mobilizing volunteers for direct, on-the-ground assistance.”

Shiba added in an email that as president, she wants to step up support of physician practices in the county, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I look forward to partnering with the L.A. County Department of Public Health … to develop programs to assist with food insecurity and chronic disease management for patients during this pandemic,” she said. “Given our physician member base, we can help educate patients and increase awareness of the beneficial public programs available to patients in need.”

Shiba said another concern of physicians during this pandemic is lack of access to personal protective equipment.

“This is a constant source of stress for physicians and office managers who want to protect not only the health of the staff working in the office, but also that of the patients who are being seen,” she said.

Late last month, Shiba said the medical association helped arrange for $12 million worth of PPE to 3,000 medical practitioners in L.A. County.

Shiba also said in her email that during her tenure as president, she wants to start a health equity council within the physician organization “that will develop initiatives around structural racism and its impact on health."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of members served by Southern California Permanente Medical Group. It serves 4.6 million members.

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