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Dr. Roberto Cardarelli - 211 Advocate

Over the course of 2021, we will feature 100 Heroes who have been instrumental in our fight for the basic needs, education and financial stability of our neighbors for the past century. To learn more about how we are continuing to serve the Bluegrass in 2021, click here.

Today we are interviewing Dr. Roberto Cardarelli, who is an associate Chief Medical Officer for Population Health at UK Healthcare and a tireless advocate for the 211 Contact Center.

What is your role with UWBG?

One of my roles at UK Healthcare is as the associate Chief Medical Officer for Population Health. We’ve built a program of care navigators and community health workers who are focused on wraparound services for our populations that are more vulnerable and are at a higher risk for readmission or social marginalization. We’ve always encouraged our team to leverage 211 to help patients with social needs get connected to community organizations and local resources. 211 has been a toolbox to help those patients.

What did this role include? What would a normal day look like for you?

My team reaches out to patients who are enrolled in our Population Health program. We have traditional care management programs that focus on patients being discharged from the hospital, as well as our chronic care management program for those who have chronic conditions. Our nurse navigators call patients in both programs at least monthly to check in on them and their needs. We’re always assessing for any kind of social determinants of health or other factors that the patient may be dealing with at home. A lot of that includes connecting them to either 211 or other community-based resources. In a typical day, we interface for patients who, on their own, may or may not engage to call 211. We also disseminate 211 information in our regular office clinics to ensure that practicing physicians and nurse practitioners are well-versed in the 211 resource so they can provide the patient with information about the program.

What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG’s 211 program?

Early in my career, 211 was a major resource for me as a practicing physician in Texas. I think one of the special things about the 211 program is that it spreads across the entire United States, and resources are specific to the communities it serves. When I came to Kentucky seven years ago, Kentucky didn’t have as much of a spread as other states’ 211 programs. It has really grown now, and reaches out to areas of need across the Commonwealth. I think that’s just so valuable. When I got here, nobody within my UK Healthcare practices knew about 211, and I wanted to change that.

What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?

United Way brings together all these community-based organizations as one central resource. Their mission is focused on supporting those community-based organizations, but also to be a kind of clearinghouse, if you will. It takes a lot of time and effort to work with patients to organically find an organization that can meet their needs. It’s really special to be able to have an organization like UWBG in our community that has expertise in all of these areas.

In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?

They provide critical resources to individuals who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access them. Economic and social resources impact health tremendously. We shouldn’t underestimate the huge impact that organizations like United Way of the Bluegrass have had on the wellness and health of our population.

Fun questions:

What’s your favorite place in the Bluegrass?

I love downtown Lexington. It’s so diverse and vibrant and I think it’s a gem in the state.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bluegrass?

My favorite thing to do on a personal level is going to car shows. Natural Bridge is also one of my favorite places to go.

Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Roberto! We appreciate you and all that you do.

Do you know someone who has worked alongside United Way of the Bluegrass in the past century who should be considered for our 100 Heroes series? Please email us at to share your nomination!


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