Acacia Spotlight looks to highlight the clinicians, staff, and programs that make Acacia what it is today. July’s spotlight highlights our ‘billing wizard’ Brayan Barron, Acacia’s Insurance Manager!
Having moved from Mexico when he was three years old, Brayan grew up in Ceres, CA (home of the “two-buck chuck”). He lived in Ceres for 15 years before moving to attend UC Santa Barbara. He stumbled upon Acacia and has worked for 4 years guiding the billing department with his calm demeanor and phenomenal work ethic.
How did you get started at Acacia? How has the journey been so far?
Brayan: I joined Acacia back in 2016 when my friend, and Acacia’s very own, Jess [Rodriguez], told me that the IV office was hiring an Admin. I applied and then interviewed with Ruby (Acacia’s first OM) and Dr.’s Brett [Donnelly] and Keith [Higginbotham]. Even though I bombed the interview I was thankfully offered the admin position and the journey since has been pretty great. I started off as an Admin and then transitioned into a billing role and as the billing needs of Acacia grew my role and responsibilities did as well.
Brayan is now the Insurance Manager for Acacia. Under his leadership he has a rapidly growing team of billers, including Ashley Kauk, the Claims Supervisor. As Acacia eyes even more expansion, the billing team will be on the forefront of needing support and guidance from Brayan.
Are there any areas you are looking to explore at Acacia or in the mental health field in general?
Brayan: I am Acacia’s billing and credentialing manager so all of the work I do is spent dealing with insurance companies in one way or another. I have already done work on the billing and credentialing side of insurance, so one of the areas I am really interested in gaining more experience on is insurance contracting so that Acacia can become even more accessible to the communities we serve.
How do you spend your free time?
Brayan: Since I’m not that good at cooking I try to avoid the kitchen as much as possible so I spend most of my free time usually streaming a TV series or working. I have been trying to spend more time at the beach though.
Brayan’s relentless work ethic helps make Acacia go-round. We’ve spoken with Ashley Kauk, Acacia’s Billing Claims Supervisor, & Sarah Zamir, a former Acacia Office Manager, about working with Brayan.
When did yours and Brayan’s paths first cross?
Sarah: Our paths first crossed probably during my second shift, a few days before I graduated UCSB with my undergraduate degree. This was when Acacia still had an open plan layout, I sat at the front desk, Jess sat in the armchair, and Brayan and I were separated by a cased-opening wall. Jess and Brayan helped me navigate the rocky year of transition from semi-adulthood to full adulthood.
What were your first impressions of Brayan?
Ashley: He was quiet and reserved, but I could tell it was because he had a lot to do and was carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders as the billing supervisor.
Sarah: Who doesn’t love Brayan!? I knew when he and I ordered the same thing at Starbucks (Iced caramel macchiato, less ice) we were on the path to co-worker greatness. In a professional setting, Brayan was always the first one to check-in and make sure I was comfortable performing an eligibility check on the clients’ insurance benefits. More times than I could count, Brayan helped me in translating the complicated medical jargon of the insurance world into terms both I and prospective clients could understand.
How would you describe Brayan?
Sarah: I’m from Northern California, we don’t have a Porto’s Bakery. One day there was a local fundraiser in IV that featured Porto’s Potato Balls as the main attraction. Brayan brought back a dozen, and I probably ate 10 out of those. In true Brayan fashion, he never complained, and he never judged. I’ve also heard his sneezes are nearly fatal but that’s another story.
Ashley: I felt intimidated [when I just started] by Brayan’s knowledge of billing and was impressed with how he had been able to do everything on his own for so long. La Flora had been there for a few months, but it had been just him for a long time before that. Looking back, I can’t even fathom how they did everything with just the two of them. It’s largely because of Brayan’s ability to multi-task and that was evident even back then. He’s quite literally the glue that keeps this company together and I really hope other people are able to see that as well.
You’ve been regarded as the “the glue” that keeps Acacia together. The billing department is the backbone. What’s your reaction to those comparisons?
Brayan: Anxiety provoking to say the least! It makes me thankful to have a really awesome team by my side.
Brayan’s calm, honest, and kind demeanor is what stood out the most to me, and the rest of the Acacia team and the clients whom he crossed paths with.Sarah on Brayan
Nowadays he’s an integral piece of the backbone of Acacia. Where did you see Brayan going at Acacia and beyond?
Sarah: I knew when the billing team moved into a private office, Brayan was bound to verbally kick some insurance agent ass. In all reality, Brayan’s calm, honest, and kind demeanor is what stood out the most to me, and the rest of the Acacia team and the clients whom he crossed paths with, I’m sure. With a personality like Brayan’s I know he’s destined to be the best at whatever avenue he chooses to pursue at Acacia. Beyond Acacia, I know Brayan would go just as far.
What do you see on the journey ahead for you?
Brayan: I see myself with Acacia for the foreseeable future so I am really looking forward to strengthening my team/department even more so that we can keep up as Acacia continues to grow.
Any closing thoughts on Bryan?
Ashley: I would like to thank him for training me and for trusting me to take on the tasks that I was given and then sort of reinvent the way they were done. I was given the foundation, but my ideas for change and growth have always been welcomed and very often are implemented. It’s really nice to have a space for that. Also, I’d thank him for always checking in on how the billing team is doing mentally and trying to make even small changes to make our lives easier and happier. It’s really nice to work in an environment where I feel heard both professionally and personally.
Stay tuned for more Acacia Spotlights!
Authored by Brayan Barron, Ashley Kauk, and Sarah Zamir.
Photography by KorbyQuan Reed.
Composed by Storm Hughes, Acacia Marketing + Content Creator.