ALBANY, N.Y., October 27, 2006 — Robert Paeglow, M.D., assistant professor in the department of family and community medicine at Albany Medical College and founder and medical director of Compassion in Action/Koinonia Primary Care, is the recipient of this year’s Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Humanism in Medicine Award. He will receive the honor during the awards dinner at the AAMC annual meeting in Seattle on October 28. In addition, a full-page advertisement announcing the award and featuring Dr. Paeglow will run in the October 30 edition of USA Today.
Dr. Paeglow, a 1994 graduate of Albany Medical College, completed his residency in family medicine at Albany Medical Center and worked in the Albany Med Family Medicine Group including as medical director until 2002, when he and his wife Liliane opened Compassion in Action/Koinonia Primary Care on Clinton Avenue to provide medical services to residents of West Hill and Arbor Hill.
The Humanism in Medicine Award, sponsored by the Pfizer Medical Humanity Initiative, is given annually to recognize a medical school faculty physician who “exemplifies the qualities of a caring and compassionate mentor in the teaching and advising of medical students” and who possesses the qualities “necessary to the practice of patient-centered medicine.” Dr. Paeglow has routinely taught students in both his practice and on his many medical missions to Africa, South America and Haiti. He has been instrumental in three educational programs: “Care from the Start,” which fully immerses medical students in caring for the underserved; “Project Medscope,” where students work alongside Dr. Paeglow; and the Cultural Diversity Elective for first year students.
“Bob Paeglow’s dedication to his patients has been an inspiration to many students. His selfless passion for ensuring quality health care for everyone coupled with his gentle manner are qualities that make him an outstanding role model and mentor,” said Vincent Verdile, M.D., dean and executive vice president for health affairs at Albany Med.
Dr. Paeglow, who is also an ordained minister and a former radiation safety specialist, was 36 years old and married with four children when he entered medical school with the goal of helping the underserved receive quality medical care. This mission was sealed when as a fourth year student he went on a medical mission to Mozambique, Africa. He says he signed on for the adventure — a chance to do something different. But what he got out of that experience in one of the world’s poorest countries was a new perspective on health care.
“The country had just come out of a civil war, and I worked in the refugee camps. The camps were crowded and unsanitary. There was cholera, malnutrition — people were dying right and left. It broke my heart but at the same time I resolved that as long as I had the ability and energy to make a difference, I would.”
True to his word, Dr. Paeglow not only opened Compassion in Action/Koinonia Primary Care but has spent almost every vacation since graduating taking care of people in developing nations. He travels for one to three weeks at a time, bringing AMC nurses and medical students with him.
His decision to do more to help the underserved in his own community was also a personal one. He grew up in Arbor Hill and wanted to give back to the community. He and his wife live in a church rectory nearby, and in addition to seeing patients at the clinic, he also provides free health screenings, flu shot clinics and participates in community health fairs.
In 2005, Dr. Paeglow was presented with Albany Medical College’s Dr. Alden March Award for his many years of commitment to improving the health care of those less fortunate. In 2001, he received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Albany Med College Alumni Association. In 2002, he received the “Power to Change the World Award” from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.
More information about Dr. Paeglow and the Humanism Award can be found on the AAMC’s web site at http://www.aamc.org/newsroom/awards/start.htm
Compassion in Action/Koinonia Primary Care offers primary health care to all who enter. It serves patients of all ages and from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds including those unable to pay for services. Additional information about Compassion in Action / Koinonia Primary Care can be found at www.drbobcares.org.
Albany Medical Center is northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center. It consists of Albany Medical College, Albany Medical Center Hospital and the Albany Medical Center Foundation, Inc. Additional information about Albany Medical Center can be found at www.amc.edu.