NEWS | October 28, 2013

Kizer awarded for efforts to improve military personnel medical care


Kenneth W. Kizer, an internationally recognized health-care thought leader, change agent, and quality improvement and patient-safety advocate, received the 2013 Major Jonathan Letterman Medical Excellence Award from the National Museum of Civil War Medicine for advancing medical processes and improving patient outcomes and quality of life. He accepted the award in Bethesda, Md., on October 24.

The orphan of a World War II veteran, Kizer overcame a severely disadvantaged childhood to become a highly accomplished physician and health-care leader, achieving the extremely rare distinction of being elected to both the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration.

About the Major Jonathan Letterman Award

Major Jonathan Letterman served as medical director of the Army of the Potomac and is known as the "Father of Battlefield Medicine." In 1862, he assumed leadership of the medical department under Gen. George McClellan and quickly realized that the department needed a complete overhaul. During the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, he fine-tuned what is now known as the Letterman Plan, which not only saved the lives of countless Civil War soldiers, but also lives on today saving lives in Afghanistan and wherever emergency medical help is needed. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine's short video describes Letterman's historic contributions to medicine.

A former naval officer and diving-medicine expert, Kizer has been particularly passionate about improving health care for veterans and military personnel. His transformation of the Veterans Healthcare System in the 1990s is widely viewed as the largest and most successful health care turnaround in U.S. history.

Kizer is a distinguished professor at UC Davis School of Medicine and Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, and founding director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement. Under his leadership, the institute is working to address education, income, location and other critical factors that challenge the health and well-being of individuals and their communities. Established in 2011, the institute is leading a wide array of initiatives, from improving health-care quality and health information exchange to advancing surveillance and prevention programs for heart disease and cancer.

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine was established in 1990 by a group of scholars and medical professionals who desired to share their interest in Civil War medicine with the public.  What began as a private collection of medical artifacts from the Civil War has grown into an organization that includes two satellite museums, the Pry House Field Hospital Museum and the Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office, as well as the Letterman Institute of professional development, and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine Press publishing center.