2 Physicians Earn Kaiser Permanente’s Highest Volunteerism Award

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A Kaiser Permanente San Francisco gynecologist and a Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek pediatrician are 2 of 14 honorees across the organization of the David Lawrence Community Service Award. Above, Diane Sklar, MD, volunteers on an international medical mission.

From Guatemala to Cambodia and from San Francisco to the Sierra — two Kaiser Permanente Northern California physicians have volunteered throughout the world and given countless hours of their time and expertise. That’s one of the many reasons Diane Sklar, MD, of Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, and Katherine Gallagher, MD, of Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek, were recently honored with the David Lawrence Community Service Award (DLCSA).

The award is named in honor of David M. Lawrence, MD, former chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente and a lifelong advocate for improving health. This year, for the first time in the award’s 13-year history, each region selected two winners — so all seven regions of Kaiser Permanente are represented by 14 winners.

Each winner was selected because his or her service demonstrated a significant contribution to the overall health of a community or population. The awardees will be recognized in their respective regions as well as in a national ceremony in May.

“It’s amazing to see what our employees and physicians do on their personal time,” said Curshanda Cusseaux Woods, Kaiser Permanente NCAL Community Relations manager, and a DLCSA selection committee lead. “I hope their incredible work inspires others to do more in their own communities.”

Diane Sklar, MD, Kaiser Permanente San Francisco

Since 1998, Diane Sklar, MD, has completed more than 20 overseas medical missions to countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Kenya, and Uganda, and has donated her time to perform more than 500 surgical procedures. As a urogynecologist, (a sub-specialty of urology and gynecology), the surgeries she performs help women with conditions ranging from excessive bleeding to incontinence.

On a typical medical mission, Dr. Sklar sees about 100 patients and provides or supervises surgery for 25 to 40 of them. She described her goal as “helping restore very impoverished people back to health and giving them hope.” She added that it’s “a gift to be able to serve.”

When volunteering overseas, Dr. Sklar usually works with the nonprofits Faith in Practice and Esperanca. In the San Francisco Bay Area, she volunteers with MedShare, Project Homeless Connect, the Curry Senior Center, and Enterprise for High School Students.

In her role as Chief of Physician Volunteerism at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, she recruits colleagues to join her in volunteering locally and abroad. Dr. Sklar is also a member of Kaiser Permanente’s San Francisco’s Community Benefit Advisory Committee.

Katherine Gallagher, MD, (second from right on a knee) poses with a group of Girl Scouts at Echo Lake before heading off to backpack in the Desolation Wilderness.

Katherine Gallagher, MD, Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek

Her love of the outdoors and commitment to service has led Katherine Gallahger, MD, to decades of volunteering with the Girl Scouts of the San Francisco Bay Area, and 13 years of volunteering overseas on 19 medical missions.

For years, Dr. Gallagher has devoted up to six weeks every summer to volunteer duties at the Two Sentinels Girl Scouts Camp in the Sierra, including opening and closing the camp, serving as a camp counselor, teaching the Wilderness First Aid program, and leading the backpacking program.

She described backpacking as an empowering and leveling experience for girls.

“Kids who don’t have much money or who aren’t brilliant in school can be great at backpacking,” she said. “They can say, ‘I have everything I need on my back, and I can go out and enjoy myself.’”

Dr. Gallagher also typically spends two to four weeks a year volunteering as a pediatrician on medical missions with the nonprofits Resurge International and Rotoplast. Traveling to countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Honduras, and Peru, she provides perioperative care for children who receive reconstructive surgery for burn scars, cleft lip, and cleft palette.

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