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2012 Community Service and Volunteerism Award

2012 Community Service and Volunteerism Award

Larry Crook's professional life has been largely as a commissioned officer with the Indian Health Service (USPHS). However, he has also provided medical care for extended periods in other areas of the world - Africa, Russia, Kazakhstan, India, Thailand and Burma, usually accompanied by his wife, Nonnie, who is a nurse. After retiring as chief of internal medicine at the Gallup Indian Medical Center (GIMC), he began working with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) caring for refugees largely from some of the many ethnic groups in Burma. Many were members of the Mon tribe who had been in conflict with the Burmese Army since WW II and who live on the Thai Burma border. When MSF pulled out of Thailand leaving behind the Mon medics they had trained, Larry began supporting the work of the lead medic. On returning to the USA, Larry established a foundation to support the work on the Thai Burma border, aided by some of his colleagues at GIMC. For the past several years this foundation, the Thai Burma Border Health Initiative has organized and supported additional MSF trained medics in their work. The foundation has partnered with other NGOs in this border area in helping people access care from local medical facilities or the Thai government. In addition, the medics provide care in the villages for people with chronic diseases, especially AIDS and TB. Prenatal and postpartum care, family planning, immunizations and other preventive services along with health education in the schools are all done by the medics. Finally, more young people are being trained to be medics in this medically underserved area. In addition to spearheading the fund raising in the US, Larry and Nonnie visit the Thai Burma border area regularly to monitor the activities and provide education for the medics. While there have been some major political changes in Burma, the status of the ethnic minorities is still uncertain and violent outbreaks are still being reported.

Another of Larry's passions is photography, which has resulted in collections of wonderful photographs from the many places in which he has practiced as well as visited. A sampling can be seen at the TBBHI foundation Web site.

Because of his life-long commitment to service, the New Mexico Chapter of the American College of Physicians is honored to present the 2012 Community Service and Volunteerism Award to Dr Larry Crook.