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Sisters of Providence to present 2015 Mother Joseph Award to Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson

Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson

Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, medical director of Alaska CARES (Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Services) in Anchorage, Alaska, will receive the 2015 Mother Joseph Award from the Sisters of Providence on June 2. The presentation, which will be followed by a reception, will be held at 4 p.m. at the Health Atrium at Providence Alaska Medical Center.  Alaska CARES is part of The Children’s Hospital at Providence.

The Mother Joseph Award is given annually to a person who “exemplifies the values and courage of Mother Joseph,” the first provincial superior of the Sisters of Providence in the West.

Dr. Baldwin-Johnson, one of 37 nominees for this year’s honor, has been a Providence employee both in the Family Practice Clinic in Palmer (Providence Matanuska Health Care) and in her current position.  She had been a family practice physician for more than 30 years when she felt the call to do something about the unmet need for coordinated, multidisciplinary services for child abuse victims and families.  In 1999 she co-founded The Children’s Place, a children’s advocacy center for the Mat-Su Valley.  Since then she has been an active member of their team, serving as volunteer medical director.

A "deep and abiding sense of love"

 “Sometimes, a person has such a deep and abiding sense of love and compassion that they are impelled to action. Doctor Cathy is one of those people,” said Provincial Councilor Jo Ann Showalter, SP. “She has such a wellspring of love for the children of Alaska, especially those who have been abused, that she has used her prodigious gifts, talents and skills in many, many ways for the betterment of children. She and Mother Joseph would have been a good team.”

Ten years ago, Dr. Baldwin-Johnson began dedicating more of her time toward the medical care of abused children by taking on the role of medical director at Alaska CARES, the child advocacy center based in Anchorage.  “Being familiar with the function of Child Advocacy Centers, her professionalism, expertise, and genuine compassion for the well-being of children and families, Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson has, and does, lead not only the Medical Staff, but all members of the multi-disciplinary team, with grace,” the nominating letter from the 14 staff members at Alaska CARES read. Grace, they continued, is “a quality that is hard to come by in a discipline which faces daily some of the most atrocious crimes.”

Dedicated her career to children

The nominators described the doctor as having dedicated her entire professional career to caring for the needs of children, “who we know are often the most vulnerable and in the most need of a careful, watchful eye, and a compassionate heart and hand,” as well as their families. Like Mother Joseph, they wrote, she has identified unmet needs, stepped forward to provide leadership and is an informed, vocal and influential advocate.

Dr.  Baldwin-Johnson provides education and training for professional and lay groups, locally and statewide, has worked to develop a curriculum and orientation manual for pediatric and family practice physicians to help new members of the profession identify, refer and treat children who have been abused, and has contributed to research and publication of articles on the incidence of abusive head trauma suffered by Alaska children.

Her list of professional affiliations is daunting, including: the American and Alaskan Academies of Family Physicians, the American and International Profession Societies on the Abuse of Children (IPSCAN), the Alaska Children’s Alliance and Ray Helfer Society, the Alaska Child Protection Health Care Oversight Committee, and the Alaska Children’s Justice Task Force, to name just a few.  Her work has been recognized by organizations including the March of Dimes, the National Children’s Alliance, the Alaska and American Academy of Family Physicians, and the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime.

“What allows Dr. Baldwin-Johnson to continue this difficult work day after day is that this is her MISSION, this is her life’s work, her passion, and this is what she has committed to, much like the almost insurmountable task the Sisters of Providence took on when they came to Alaska so many years ago,” the nomination letter read.  “She will not rest until children’s voices are heard and they are safe, nurtured and well cared for throughout our state.”

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