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David Lawrence Community Service Awards: Terry Shibuya, MD

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For more than a decade, the David Lawrence Community Service Awards have recognized outstanding Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians who support volunteer activities and initiatives that improve the health of communities. The annual award is named for David M. Lawrence, MD, former chairman and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan/Hospitals and a lifelong advocate for that cause.

Up to 2 awardees are selected in each region based on their contribution to improving the overall health of a specific community or population. Their commitments focus on health and social issues such as increasing access to health care for the underserved, eliminating disparities in health outcomes of racial and ethnic minorities, and addressing the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age that can affect their health.

The 2019 Kaiser Permanente Southern California Region winners are Terry Shibuya, MD, and Alexis Goudeau Philius, RN. Each will receive a $10,000 charitable contribution from Kaiser Permanente to the nonprofit organization of their choice.

Terry Shibuya, MD, has dedicated decades of his life to helping the less fortunate, and currently provides free facial surgeries to the people of Puno, Peru who have facial anomalies.

Dr. Terry Shibuya not only believes in helping the less fortunate, but in the power of helping them obtain an education. For the last 35 years, Dr. Shibuya has dedicated his life to participating in medical outreach missions around the world – volunteering in cities in the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, India, and Colombia. He has completed over 50 medical outreach missions and has concentrated on providing craniofacial surgeries to people in impoverished countries – primarily focusing on cleft lift and cleft palate anomalies. Dr. Shibuya is a Kaiser Permanente otolaryngologist, or ear, nose, and throat doctor, and practices in Orange County, CA. In addition, he is the medical director for Angels of Charity and Music (ACM), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free surgeries to people with malformations, with which he has been involved for the last 8 years.

Currently, ACM serves the indigenous population in the Puno, Peru area. There is a lack of specialty care in this area and due to the high altitude, and not many non-profit organizations go there regularly, according to Dr. Shibuya. The population of about 400 thousand people in the area only have access to one community hospital and one private hospital, often going years without necessary treatment. ACM treats people within an 8-hour radius of Puno, Peru. On average, Dr. Shibuya’s team provides 120 surgeries in a week to the residents. The organization collaborates with other non-profits in the area and the catholic church in coordinating follow-up care for patients.
ACM’s mission extends beyond surgeries.

“I strongly believe in health education, and treating the whole individual”, says Dr. Shibuya. In addition to necessary craniofacial surgeries, ACM provides food, clothing, and university scholarships to those in need. When it comes to scholarships for local students, Dr. Shibuya says the hope is they will return to help their communities once they graduate.

When asked about the possibility of expanding this work in other communities, Dr. Sibuya says, “I strongly believe this can be replicated in other communities. The key is to develop relationships with other local non-profits, and team up to provide not only health care, but education and follow-up care with local health care providers.”

Dr. Shibuya considers himself blessed to practice at Kaiser Permanente. “We are fortunate to be able to provide outstanding health care to our members, and I often talk about my experiences outside of KP to my staff to really drive this point home.”

Read the story of the other 2019 awardee: Alexis Goudeau Philius, RN.