THE SAFETY NET
Family medicine doctor at Country Doctor Community Health Centers
Family physician Sarah Hufbauer remembers vividly the Hispanic woman who arrived at the Country Doctor clinic on Capitol Hill. Terrified, alone, in labor and unable to speak English, the woman would not board an ambulance, so Hufbauer used her Spanish skills to gain the woman’s trust and coax her into her car. Then she drove her to the hospital and delivered her baby.
Started by community activists, Country Doctor has been providing primary health care to all patients, regardless of ability to pay (53 percent have no insurance, 66 percent live at or below the poverty line) since 1971—and has been doing so in partnership with the Carolyn Downs Family Medical Center in the Central District since the late 1980s. Along the way, the clinic has garnered respect for its large and effective HIV and diabetes programs, mental health services and overall excellent health care.
And one key to its success, for the last 19 years, has been Dr. Hufbauer. Her colleague Dr. Richard Kovar, Country Doctor medical director, says Hufbauer is “easily the most popular and productive doctor” in the office. A mother of two who bikes to the clinic, 50-year-old Hufbauer has applied her tireless energy outside of the office by teaching at University of Washington Medicine, mentoring medical students and volunteering as a medical examiner for people seeking political asylum. For her pro bono work and quality care, Hufbauer received the King County Academy of Family Physicians Community Service Award in 2011. Although she often works through her lunch and might sometimes deliver three babies in 24 hours (as she did the day before she spoke to Seattle mag), Hufbauer says her patients’ gratitude and knowing she can offer them the same excellent care they would receive at any private physician’s office make it all worth it. —NAOMI CRAW
Top Doctors 2013: Community Service Award Winners
| July 2013
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Sarah Hufbauer, M.D.
THE SAFETY NET
The Puget Sound region is home to some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable health care practitioners in the world. But all of these resources can only make a difference in the life of an individual when he or she has access to them. This year as part of Top Doctors, we’re singling out for praise just a few of the many local health care practitioners and researchers—and their associated clinics and hospital outreach programs—who are making a difference in underserved, disenfranchised communities. These are doctors who are launching programs, volunteering their time and expertise, and building networks to improve health outlooks for people who, because of cultural and socio-economic barriers, might not otherwise get the care they need. Like many doctors in our region, these men and women go beyond the call to make our region healthier and happier. Seattle magazine, along with our Top Doctors Advisory Panel, is pleased to recognize these six outstanding leaders in the field.