Firm News

Meet the Team: Kim Meymandi

March 26, 2024

Meet the Team is our blog series introducing some of the amazing professionals at Ascendient – who they are and what makes them tick. This month, meet Kim Meymandi, a senior regulatory consultant who joined the firm in July 2022.

You’ve had an interesting and varied career, so what was it that attracted you to healthcare, ultimately?

My interests in healthcare date back to my days as a teenager when I spent over a month in and out of the hospital for a flipped omentum. Not being able to figure out what was going on, my providers at UNC-Chapel Hill finally had to finally resort to exploratory surgery. My interests in healthcare continued with my first job out of college working at the Department of Social Services (DSS) in Cumberland County where, working with applicants for Medicaid, I began to realize how fortunate and blessed I was to receive such amazing healthcare and not have crazy outstanding medical bills. At DSS I was a case manager for Medicaid and saw firsthand how lack of medical care and really medical insurance can severely and adversely impact a person and families.

At the time (30 years ago) and really up until this past year, there has been so little understanding and acknowledgement of the extreme gaps in Medicaid coverage for the working poor and uninsured. In fact, up until Medicaid expansion, intact families regardless of their income were not eligible for Medicaid in NC. Only adults with a disability or single parents of dependent children could potentially qualify for Medicaid in NC. Thankfully, with the passage of Medicaid expansion last year those parameters have changed.

My career path working both for Social Security disability and the state Medicaid office also helped me understand the hurdles providers face in providing care for the underserved. As Chief Hearing Officer for Medicaid, I saw how provider claims were denied and the red tape and legal action it took to resolve the denials.

My connections to healthcare increased even more when I married the son of a psychiatrist who was very active in the medical community. Those conversations and connections have followed me and have blossomed into many significant and valued friendships over the years. I was just visiting with my sister-in-law, a trained cardiologist and renowned expert on chagas, who now sits on the board of Global Women and Health. She along with her partner are both very active in Doctors without Borders and in use of innovative technology in developing countries. To hear their global health stories is fascinating and inspirational. These ongoing connections and relationships have been tremendous in furthering my interests in healthcare.

Prior to joining Ascendient, you were a CON Project Analyst with the NC Department of Health and Human Services. I think the CON process may seem somewhat opaque or even arbitrary to many, but what was your experience as an insider, trying to ensure rational distribution of healthcare resources?

In a very broad general sense, CON law appears to be about equal and rational distribution of healthcare resources. However, it’s really about so much more than that. It’s about access to healthcare, financial stability of the facilities delivering healthcare, and really the quality of the healthcare being delivered. I might add that it’s a balancing act of ensuring all the bases are covered without detriment to others.

Why did you leave your government post to become a consultant? Is there something you can better accomplish or better contribute in your current role?

The bureaucratic process and limited resources involved in working for the government can be not only frustrating but also sometimes a barrier to progress. While I have a tremendous amount of respect for state and federal employees who work very hard every day with limited resources to carry out their duties, I really felt compelled to join a team that has deep knowledge of the healthcare industry and CON regulation and is dedicated to furthering the tenets of health equity and access on a broad basis.

My current role allows me to develop a creative license and to effect change on a broad basis. During my tenure as a CON Project Analyst, I saw the amazing quality and attention to detail that Ascendient delivers in their CON work. The more I learned about the extensive work Ascendient does, the more I wanted to be part of what they are doing. Working for Ascendient has allowed me to work on CON applications in NC and other states and witness the strong strategy and community health work they do to further healthcare delivery. I really enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to work with providers and think outside the box and promote solving some of the pervasive issues surrounding healthcare – not just in North Carolina but in other states.

What has been your most interesting, challenging, or rewarding assignment since joining Ascendient?

Working to help Thrive Health Care Services navigate the CON process in Washington, DC. Thrive is a home health company currently operating in Virginia, and I was so very impressed by their dedication in going above and beyond for the medically complex patients they serve. Because Thrive is a specialized agency serving technology-dependent patients – many juvenile and many dual-eligible – we had to develop strategies for obtaining market data that appeared sparse or non-existent. At a time when other home health applications were being denied due to lack of demonstrated need, we were able to confirm the need for Thrive’s services in DC, and our application was approved.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? How do you keep yourself healthy and centered?

Yoga, Pilates, and when the weather is good there’s nothing like a long bike ride on the greenway or a walk with a friend or two. I also love to travel.

And finally, our standard exit question: If you could solve just one issue in the US healthcare system that would have the greatest impact, what would that be?

Quality healthcare for all regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, or geographic location.

Keep up with Kim via LinkedIn and through her contributions to our Research Roundup e-brief.