Working together to build a healthier community for all of us.

Kaiser Permanente believes when we collaborate and support each other, our work improves the quality of health and life in our communities.

We are dedicated to total health of body, mind, and spirit, and we pursue efforts that broaden access to the highest quality care for people when they need it. We believe all of us deserve to live healthy lives in our homes, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods. That’s why, for more than 70 years, we have worked to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.

We accomplish this work in countless ways, from funding knowledge and resource sharing programs that address health disparities to providing assistance with health care costs to people in need. Our commitment is exhibited in the many ways we reach out and work with others to build a healthy future for all.

Share Your Story

Our Community. Our Stories. Share Yours.

There are moments that inspire. Moments that touch your heart, open your eyes or inspire action. Often a single moment can achieve all three.

Moments like these happen all the time throughout our programs and countless others like them. If you come across one of these moments, please share it here. It may just be the spark that inspires one more person to get involved.

Submission Type
Uploading files…
Thank you! Your story has been submitted.
Next we're going to review your submission and if everything looks good, we'll approve it. We'll keep you posted via email once your story has been published.
Whoops! Something went wrong. :(
Either try again or contact us and let us know about the trouble you are experiencing.
  1. Kaiser Permanente Irvine Medical Center anesthesiologist Nhat Le, M.D. is on a mission to put a smile on the faces of children in Vietnam.
  2. Dr. Le embraces a young patient during a medical mission trip with Project Vietnam Foundation.
  3. Kaiser Permanente Irvine Medical Center anesthesiologist Nhat Le, M.D
  1. Slide 1
  2. Slide 2
  3. Slide 3

Putting a Smile on Children’s Faces in Vietnam

2015 David Lawrence Community Service Award Finalist

Nhat (Nathan) Le, MD, is one of two finalists for the 2015 annual David Lawrence Community Service Award for the Southern California region. This award recognizes individuals and teams at Kaiser Permanente who champion outstanding activities and initiatives to positively impact health, whether it is in their local communities or abroad. They embody Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve community health and they are committed to important health and social issues, such as 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 our natural resources.

To recognize their amazing work and dedication to giving back, David Lawrence Community Service Award winners receive a $10,000 grant to a nonprofit of their choosing, which is funded by Kaiser Permanente’s national Community Benefit. 

Kaiser Permanente Irvine Medical Center anesthesiologist Nhat Le, M.D.

Although Vietnam has made significant progress in its health care system over the past decade --life expectancy is 72.8 years, infant mortality rate has dropped nearly 30%, and rates of malnutrition in children under five have fallen dramatically from 54% to 24.5%-- many difficulties and challenges persist in this South East Asian country. These challenges are especially visible in remote areas with large ethnic minority populations, which usually have higher health care needs, higher rates of malnutrition, and less access to care than larger cities.

In Vietnam’s remote areas, the majority of the population still lacks knowledge about their health conditions, and often resorts to home remedies that may or may not be effective. To help reduce the disparity in access to health care, Project Vietnam Foundation (PVNF) has conducted medical mission trips to remote areas in Vietnam since 1996, traveling to the most remote and underserved areas in Vietnam where health care is limited and pediatric care is nonexistent.

As a volunteer for PVNF, Kaiser Permanente Irvine Medical Center anesthesiologist Nhat Le, M.D. has completed 12 annual medical/surgical missions to his native Vietnam since 1999. A pediatric anesthesiologist, Dr. Le provides anesthesia for corrective surgeries such as cleft lips, cleft palates, strabismus, and congenital cataracts, performed on children in Vietnam’s most vulnerable communities.

Cleft lip and palate is an area of high vulnerability for children from remote villages, causing malnutrition, speech and language impairment, and seriously hindering a child’s emotional and mental development. In many areas, cleft lips and palates are a source of shame, causing afflicted children to be kept home and away from school, unable to socialize or receive an education.

PVNF conducts three, 2-week-long mission trips each year. The Spring Trip in March involves free surgeries for children with birth deformities, primary care work, and training programs by specialists. Summer Service camp consists of a medical team and 75 student volunteers working at rural clinics providing medical, dental, and vision care. And the November trip provides training for neonatal, pediatric, and specialty care.

Dr. Le co-leads the surgical team during the annual mission trips in March, teaming up with PVNF co-founder Chan Quynh, M.D.  In addition to preparing all of the necessary anesthetic supplies for the trip, Dr. Le organizes the children’s pre-op evaluations, runs the operating and recovery room, and coordinates post-op care before patients are discharged back to their villages. All of this, in addition to anesthetizing the patients for their surgeries.

Since its founding, PVNF has performed 1,770 surgeries in remote, underserved areas for children with eye problems and cleft lip and palate. The children who have undergone surgery are now able to attend school, develop self-confidence, and live a normal, bully-free life. In addition, PVNF has provided free medical exams, dental treatment, and vision care to 8,110 people in rural areas and has provided training to local health care staff, focusing on pediatric care.

Dr. Le and his volunteers seek to create systems which can provide sustainable services. In March 2015, the team discovered a group in the highlands of central Vietnam with a high rate of hemoglobin problems. Subsequently, the group worked together with a local trucking company in Northern California to donate a refrigerator for storing donated blood, and performed transfusion at a district hospital that is closer to the afflicted children. Project Vietnam Foundation is currently working with the local Medical School and Children’s hospital in Vietnam to conduct a survey of the children at risk of developing Thalassemia, a condition which, when diagnosed early, can be treated to minimize long-term damages.

Dr. Le has made it his personal mission to ‘make a difference in another person’s life.’ He has a wonderful life and wants to make life beautiful for others in return. He understands the needs of these children and that is why he had chosen to be an active member and supporter of the Project Vietnam Foundation. He cares deeply for the children he serves in Vietnam, and he works hard to recruit other quality medical professionals to join his team.