April 30, 2018
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Leadership Internal Medicine
Photo courtesy of San Joaquin Physician magazine (Photo by Dale Goff).
||Issa Fakhouri, M.D.
For Stockton internist Issa Fakhouri, M.D., having support can make all the difference. Whether it be from his family, the community to which he moved as a teenager or the medical team with which he works on a daily basis, the backing and support of those around him have helped make success possible.
Raised in Jordan, Fakhouri and his family came to the Stockton area when he was only 13 years old. As is the case with many immigrant families in this country, a new home brought with it new promise, but the road to success was an intimidating one, fraught with hard work, challenges and sacrifices at nearly every turn.
“To come here as a kid, not speaking a word of English, a lot of sacrifices had to happen in the family for me to even finish school,” he said.
While he admits to being intrigued by the sciences at a young age, Fakhouri’s road toward a career in medicine began in earnest during his third year as an undergrad, while serving a volunteer stint in the emergency room of Sacramento’s Sutter Medical Center. It was then, during his first night in the ER, that he watched as the medical team on shift responded to a patient who had suffered a major heart attack. Working together, this team of medical professionals was able to save the patient’s life.
“This is a guy that came in and was practically on the verge of dying,” Dr. Fakhouri recalled. “To see a team of people – physicians, nurses, staff – come together for this person and bring out this unbelievable outcome, it makes you want to be in medicine. Seeing that, you want to go on a make a difference.”
Now, nearly two decades later, this notion of medicine as something of a “team sport” continues to drive Dr. Fakhouri, particularly through his role as Associate Medical Director for Population Care at Kaiser Permanente’s Stockton campus, and as the standard bearer for the group’s innovative Chronic Condition Program. The program, which Dr. Fakhouri started in the Central Valley, was quickly adopted by the Permanente Group’s entire Northern California region, and implements a continuous, consistent and proactive approach to managing patients with chronic conditions.
“As physicians, we’re often the most visible, but behind the scenes, there are nurses, there are pharmacists, there’s a whole team of people trying to manage that diabetic or asthmatic patient,” Fakhouri said. “The model that we’ve created makes it so that everyone is truly working together – every patient, every place, every time by everyone.”
Outside of the walls of his office or exam room, Dr. Fakhouri remains a key player in another team – that of the greater Stockton community.
Growing up, Stockton left an indelible impression on Dr. Fakhouri, one that has stayed with him well into adulthood. After graduating from medical school, Dr. Fakhouri relocated to Chicago to complete his residency. During those years, despite an overwhelming industry trend that suggests that physicians will set down roots in the areas where they complete residency, Dr. Fakhouri longed to return to California’s Central Valley.
“I grew up in this community. I knew the whole time that I’d be coming back here,” he said.
“Stockton shaped me into who I am today.”
Now, Dr. Fakhouri is returning the favor – taking every opportunity to shape the future of Stockton.
As a physician ambassador to the community in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Fakhouri has been active in maintaining the health and well-being of Stockton residents. For years, he has volunteered at St. Mary’s clinic for the uninsured in downtown Stockton, and has provided volunteer sports physicals for the Lodi and Lincoln school districts.
He has also taken an active role in helping shape the next generation, serving as a student advisor at Stockton’s Health Career Academy and as a coach in the local youth soccer and basketball programs.
“These kids come from the same community that I did,” he said. “I know what struggles they’re going through. I can tell them ‘If I can do it, I think you can too.’”
As has been the case in his professional life, Dr. Fakhouri’s personal life also relies on the support of a team – namely his wife, Mariam, his three children and his extended family throughout the Stockton area and abroad.
“In the last 10 years, during these leadership roles and how much time it all takes away, I can’t say enough about the support of my wife and my parents,” he said. “They’ve been my pillar throughout all of this.”
This profile originally appeared in San Joaquin Physician Magazine (written by James Noonan).