They are employees and physicians from throughout Kaiser Permanente, working in their communities and beyond, to help improve the lives of foster children, the homeless and those mired in poverty. They are the 2016 National David Lawrence Community Service Award winners.
The Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals boards of directors has selected 12 awardees from across the organization for this annual award. Kaiser Permanente will make a $10,000 charitable contribution on behalf of each winner, to the nonprofit organization of his or her choice.
“Our awardees and nominees demonstrate that the greatest asset in achieving Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to improving the health of the more than 60 million lives in the communities we serve is truly its people, who bring so much of their time, talent, commitment, and innovation,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, senior vice president, Community Health and Benefit, and Kaiser Permanente’s first chief community health officer.
The awardees were selected because their service has demonstrated a significant contribution to improving the overall health of a community or population. Their commitments are to health and social issues, including increasing access to health care for the underserved, eliminating disparities in health outcomes of racial and ethnic minorities, addressing the social determinants of health, and being strong stewards of natural resources.
“The work of the David Lawrence Community Service Award winners not only mirrors our community health priorities, it also embodies the ideals of total health by addressing mind, body, and spirit,” Dr. Choucair said.
For more than a decade, the David Lawrence Community Service Award has recognized employees and physicians who champion outstanding volunteer activities and initiatives to improve the health of our communities. The award is named in honor of David M. Lawrence, MD, former chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, and a lifelong advocate for improving community health. The winners of the 2016 David Lawrence Community Service Awards are:
Christian Schannuth: A longtime volunteer and current director of a local Royal Family Kids camp, which mentors foster care children who have experienced abuse, abandonment, and neglect.
Ryan Paterson, MD: Medical director for the Kolkata City Mission, which works to combat poverty and malnutrition while helping to create infrastructure that provides education, housing, clean water and covered sewers for people living in the slums of Kolkata, India. He also helps provide health care to the underserved in India and Nepal.
Harris Nakamoto: As a youth, many of Harris’ peers dropped out of school, resorting to drug use and falling into the clutches of homelessness — a fact that deeply motivated him as an adult to volunteer with at-risk high school youth by mentoring, counseling and helping to provide motivation.
Alean Cook-Palmer, MD: Works with the Boys & Girls Club of Nanakuli, two schools and their health academies, and medical school students from Home Project, alongside teams of volunteers, parents, institutional and community partners. She also collaborates with physicians and staff of Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.
Monte Sanchez: Volunteers with Manna Food Bank in Montgomery County on behalf of Kaiser Permanente, and personally volunteers with the Fairfax County’s Community Emergency Response Team, with a focus on first aid. He also volunteers with a local animal rescue and the Fairfax County Police Department.
Alex Haybok: Has volunteered and raised money for his children’s school, which includes helping build a playground, install new water fountains, improve school communications processes, and inspire a culture of active living. This includes more children walking to school or riding their bikes, spending more time being active outdoors, and yoga in the classroom.
Aaron Thornton, MD: A passion for volunteering started with a church mission to a Haiti orphanage, with Dr. Thornton taking along just a few medications and seeing as many people as he could in an area of Haiti where no formal medical care was available. He also serves with the Tiba Foundation, teaching nurses and physicians providing solutions to the delivery of medical care to an underserved area in Kenya.
James Jang, MD: Helped start City Impact in San Francisco, a free medical and dental clinic, and has served as medical director since 2014. City Impact operates the renowned Adopt a Building Program, bringing hope through positive personal relationships fostered by the program.
David Griffin, DPM: Leads a number of volunteer efforts, including raising money for cancer research, collecting shoes for disaster relief organizations, and volunteering at local homeless shelters. He started a local program to screen children for football concussions, and at Kaiser Permanente’s Sunnyside hospital, he helps identify high-risk patients for falling in the inpatient home and facility settings.
Mary Jane Govaerts: A certified Victim/Offender Education group facilitator, she has worked with ex-offenders through her affiliation with St. Vincent de Paul’s Catherine Center in California, a transitional residence for women released from incarceration. When she relocated to Oregon, she helped create a course that focuses on the concepts of restorative justice to women in a correctional facility.
Tony Lee, MD: Cofounder and medical director of Medical Task Force International. He has led a number of medical missions to seven countries in Southeast Asia and Central and South America. In addition to providing care, food and toys in these countries, Dr. Lee and his team provide health education for the patients and local medical students, resident doctors and nurses.
Kaiser Permanente Group of Jamaican & American Humanitarians: This team helps provide health care services to rural low-income Jamaican communities. Their work has expanded and improved the quality of care in Jamaica by working with the ministry of health to share best practices. Locally, the group hosts an annual health fair and provides boxed lunches for the homeless. They also award scholarships to students both in America and Jamaica.