Doctors Scott Cohen and Mark Babo are recognized with David Lawrence Community Service Awards. Pictured, Dr. Cohen teaches newborn resuscitation to a group of indigenous midwives in Chiapas, Mexico.
This year, 2 Kaiser Permanente Northern California physicians, Scott Cohen, MD, and Mark Babo, MD, were among 14 David Lawrence Community Service award winners Programwide. The awards annually recognize individuals and groups throughout Kaiser Permanente who demonstrate extraordinary efforts to improve the health of communities in the United States and abroad.
The organization will make a $10,000 charitable contribution on behalf of each honoree to the nonprofit organization of his or her choice.
“There were so many wonderful nominees this year, but Drs. Cohen and Babo stood out with their passion for helping those in need through grassroots efforts so their critical work can continue to impact hundreds of lives,” said Curshanda Cusseaux Woods, Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Relations manager and co-lead of the David Lawrence Community Service Awards Review Committee. Read on to learn about this year’s Northern California award recipients.
Helping Communities Take Action
In 2002, Dr. Cohen, a pediatrician at the Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center, founded Global Pediatric Alliance (GPA), a nonprofit that specializes in the improvement of child and maternal health through the education of community health workers in rural areas of Latin America. The nonprofit has trained over 1,400 traditional midwives and local health care workers since its founding, and 19,000 people have benefited through its funding of clean water filters in 400 homes and a local hospital.
Dr. Cohen was inspired to found GPA after volunteering in remote parts of Central America, where access to formal health services is limited and where he saw first-hand the high maternal and infant mortality rates.
“Many of these deaths were preventable, and I felt compelled to do something substantive about it, like empowering communities with better education and training,” he said.
Currently, GPA has active projects in over 100 indigenous Mayan communities of Chiapas, Mexico, and the Chimaltenango region of Guatemala. It has recently partnered with a women’s leadership organization in Guatemala to support 165 women as they develop community gardens. Through this project, nearly 80 women and children suffering from malnutrition showed improvements in their nutritional and physical health.
“Working within the American health care system, we have everything we need at our fingertips. We should think about how we can care deeply for other people, even those whom we may not know personally,” said Dr. Cohen. “For Kaiser Permanente to recognize that in the work of my nonprofit is very rewarding and quite moving.”
Creating Access to Quality Care
Dr. Babo, a Family Medicine physician at the Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center, is a volunteer medical director for Heal Our World, a nonprofit he co-founded with his wife Doreen in 2009. Its mission is to provide access to compassionate and competent medical care to those in need around the world. As co-director, he is involved in fundraising, hospital development, physician and nurse training, and medicine and supplies procurement.
“I have volunteered around the world for the past 32 years and have been to countries where people must walk for hours to get to a health facility, only to arrive too late for their problem to be adequately resolved,” said Dr. Babo. “I felt called to bring hope and health to those who are hurting.”
Among his many accomplishments and service projects, Dr. Babo has established an outpatient clinic and community development program in Kenya, 3 hospitals in Nigeria, and a clinic in India, which is currently in development.
By providing quality facilities in areas of need, and through training local health care workers to provide better care, Dr. Babo and Heal Our World have helped thousands of pregnant women have safe deliveries; thousands of children get immunized; and thousands of people receive care for serious health issues, ranging from asthma to diabetes, and malaria to tuberculosis.
“I am humbled to receive this honor among so many of my colleagues who are making a difference,” continued Dr. Babo. “I am also grateful to Kaiser Permanente for inspiring volunteerism. This award will make a life-changing difference in the lives of so many of the world’s poor in need of health care. For me, the opportunity to serve those in need is my greatest joy.”