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David Lawrence Community Service Awards Recognize Extraordinary Volunteers

Kimberly Kim, M.D., internal medicine, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center is on a mission to make the world a healthier place.

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“Be Inspired” is honored to showcase seven remarkable nominees who were recognized as semi-finalists for Kaiser Permanente’s 2015 David Lawrence Community Service Award. Please scroll down to read today’s featured profile.

The annual David Lawrence Community Service 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. These nominees embody Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve community health. Their commitments have been 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.

“Be Inspired” will feature the seven semi-finalists for the Southern California region individually throughout the month of January. The two Southern California award winners of the 2015 awards will be announced on January 26, 2016.

Kimberly Kim, M.D., internal medicine, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center is on a mission to make the world a healthier place.

Kimberly H. Kim, M.D., internal medicine, has been a Kaiser Permanente Southern California partner physician and Hospitalist at Kaiser Permanente's West Los Angeles Medical Center since 1993. In addition to her full time work with Kaiser Permanente, she has also spent the last 20 years as a medical volunteer in the United States and third world countries, usually in areas in dire need of emergency medical care following natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes. Her volunteer efforts have been driven by a passion for serving the underprivileged and poor in areas of the world where healthcare is minimal or unavailable.

Dr. Kim’s work has included volunteering in underdeveloped third world populations with limited public health systems and limited access to care. The populations are poor, illiterate, and face discrimination in addition to crippling social and economic issues that limit their ability to live long, healthy, happy, prosperous lives. 

The communities she has served have been in need of both emergency care and primary care following major natural disasters. By providing quality care in challenging settings with little or no support systems in place, lives were saved, families were reunited, and patients and physicians learned from one another.

In her most recent medical volunteer mission in Nepal, Dr. Kim and her team not only assisted with emergency medical care but also helped rebuild the medical system by working with “Doctors For You”, a group appointed by the Nepal Ministry of Health. They educated the medical team, organized mobile health outreach programs, started breast cancer screenings, and restructured the pharmacy that serves the local villages.

Dr. Kim has maintained a full clinical practice as a hospitalist while pursuing these multiple volunteer opportunities on her time off.  Her experiences have included working in and coping with extreme environmental conditions, most recently in Nepal following the devastating series of severe earthquakes.  The temporary field hospital/ER where she worked in the Nukowot District had limited medical supplies, unreliable electrical power, and did not provide a surgical staff, running water, dialysis equipment, or ventilators.  Dr. Kim has been proud and honored to work with the local on-site medical staff in these situations, and joins in their dedication and perseverance.

Currently she is developing the "Kaiser-Nepal-Water project" to provide clean drinking water for school children in Nepal as a result of seeing children drinking contaminated water. She feels an obligation to help in any way possible to provide more clean water for these children.

Below is a complete listing of Dr. Kim’s volunteer work:

  • 2004 – Indonesian Tsunami, emergency relief, Bali, Indonesia (2 months)
  • 2005 – Hurricane Katrina, primary care, New Orleans, USA (6 weeks)
  • 2010 – Haitian Earthquake, emergency relief, Port Au Prince, Haiti (2 months)
  • 2011 – Japanese Earthquake, emergency relief, Japan (6 weeks)
  • 2012 – Honduras, primary care, Honduras (with University of California, Berkeley program, 2 weeks)
  • 2013 – South Korea, primary care in free clinic, South Korea (6 weeks)
  • 2014 – Hawaii, primary care in former leper colony, Molokai, Hawaii (2 weeks) 2014:  Tanzania, Mozambique, primary care in free clinic (3 weeks)
  • 2015 – Nepal, Earthquake, emergency relief, Nukowot District, Nepal (4 weeks)