October 18, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Leadership Professional Development & Education
Sacramento emergency physician Hernando Garzon, M.D., was recognized with the California Medical Association’s (CMA) Compassionate Service Award at the 145th annual CMA House of Delegates, which convened October 15-16, 2016, in Sacramento. The award honors a CMA member physician who best illustrates the association's commitment to community and charity care.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Garzon has demonstrated a commitment to disaster response and humanitarian medical relief. In the fall of 2014, Dr. Garzon went to West Africa to assist with the outbreak of Ebola, which had an incredibly high mortality rate of over 65 percent. He was one of the first American physicians to respond to this international crisis.
“[It was] a reminder of how incredibly low-resourced many developing countries still are, and how vulnerable these populations are to any problems that test their extremely-limited resources," said Dr. Garzon, who serves as Director of Emergency Management for Kaiser Permanente's 21 hospital system in northern California. "It’s a reminder for me of the developed world’s responsibility to respond to these events, knowing that the developing world cannot manage them alone.”
For Dr. Garzon, it's a responsibility he takes very personally. He has provided humanitarian relief around the world, including during the tsunami in Sri Lanka, the Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan, famine in Somalia and most recently, the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Garzon also serves as the Director for Kaiser Permanente's Global Health Program. In that role, he has helped develop capacity building and volunteer clinical programs in throughout Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. Domestically, Dr. Garzon has participated in over a dozen domestic disaster response deployments with FEMA, including the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
He teaches extensively on disaster medical care and humanitarian medical response efforts – and even consults for the U.S. Department of State on medical care for victims of weapons of mass destruction. In California, he has trained more than 400 physicians and paramedics on medical search and rescue – work he maintains as some of the most rewarding of his career.
And while Dr. Garzon is obviously deserving of accolades for his humanitarian relief efforts, his colleagues also consider him a wise, courageous and compassionate physician who truly believes in teaching and motivating his patients. He’s been quoted as saying “the more patients participate in their own care, the more they will live a healthy and effective life with whatever illness they have, and the less the illness itself will ‘win’ them over.”