Since her years as a student in the School of Medicine, 1980 alumna Kathleen Taylor has devoted herself to providing quality health care to women. A self-described "ardent feminist" in a class that was 48 percent women, she organized a Women in Medicine group and established a Women in Medicine section in the medical library, as well as a clinic called Womankind, for underserved women in Sacramento.
During her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Francisco, she volunteered at the Lyon-Martin Health Services clinic in the Mission District, serving as its gynecologic director for two years. She practiced as an obstetrician-gynecologist serving a diversity of patients at Rockridge Health Care in Oakland, as well as serving as a volunteer gynecology consultant at Children’s Hospital, Planned Parenthood, La Clínica de la Raza and other community clinics in Oakland.
Later she directed Women’s Health Care in Oakland, which became the largest Medi-Cal obstetrics provider in the East Bay Area. There she established a program incorporating social service, nutrition, health education and prenatal yoga, which became a model for other practices.
From 1989 until her retirement in 2005, she had an obstetrics and gynecology practice at Kaiser Permanente in Fremont and was assistant chief of the obstetrics and gynecology department for several years.
The School of Medicine has recognized the significance of Taylor’s career by naming her as the recipient of its Transformational Leadership Award. The award recognizes that her professional achievements and contributions have enhanced the profession, improved the welfare of the general public, provided for personal distinction and brought honor to UC Davis.
"For me, doing this work with women around the world is almost a missionary sort of thing – it’s what fulfills me, it’s what makes my life happy."
Although she served thousands of patients in private practice, retiring was just "the beginning of a new and rewarding career of service to the women’s community of the world," she says. She regards as her proudest achievement to date her founding of Oakland-based Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer (PINCC), of which she served as executive director. The mission of PINCC is to train medical providers in developing countries with the highest burden of cervical cancer in a low-cost, low-technology portable screening method that has been extensively tested by the World Health Organization.
Cervical cancer kills 300,000 women each year throughout the world, even though it is preventable. It is the number one cause of cancer deaths of women in Africa and in most of the developing countries around the globe, Taylor says.
Her dedication to providing high-quality health care to women around the world has led her on medical missions to Central and South America, Africa and India. In the five years since the inception of PINCC, Taylor has led numerous teams of volunteer doctors, nurses and non-medical volunteers in training hundreds of doctors and nurses in nine countries to provide life-saving care.
In 2003, she traveled to Honduras with a medical mission to work with a clinic and residence program for young women who were sexually abused. This experience inspired her to found PINCC.
"I realized the enormity of the human trafficking trade in women and children worldwide and the disenfranchisement of these women from their families and communities," she says. "Through violence and abuse, they are discarded from normal society and are at high risk for one of the most prevalent cancers among the world’s women today, as well as HIV and other gynecological problems."
For relaxation, Taylor travels to Point Reyes Station one day a week to paint landscapes and abstracts using acrylics and also enjoys bird watching.
"I’m certainly an amateur painter, but it’s a great release and stress reducer," she says. Her partner for 20 years, Pat Sax, a retired psychotherapist and social worker, collaborates with her in the work of PINCC. She has two sons, Avon, 47, and Loren, 46, who were 18 and 16 when they escorted her at graduation to receive her medical degree from UC Davis.
Her reason years ago for choosing obstetrics and gynecology still resonates today.
"I felt best when I was helping someone else with their problems, as well as being a confidant and counselor," she says. "I’ve always been interested in the problems of poor women and lack of health care. For me, doing this work with women around the world is almost a missionary sort of thing – it’s what fulfills me, it’s what makes my life happy."
The need is significant. More than 81 million Americans over age 20 have one or more types of cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease or congestive heart failure. Peripheral vascular disease is estimated to affect up to 10 million Americans. UC Davis Health System is improving cardiovascular health through state-of-the-art patient care, cutting-edge research, education and outreach.