Carla Kakutani, M.D., associate medical director of Sutter Medical Group, has been named 2014 Family Physician of the Year by the California Academy of Family Physicians.
Selected from among the academy’s 8,700 members, Kakutani is being honored for 25 years of serving the rural Winters community as a family physician while at the same time leading statewide and national efforts to champion family medicine and improve the health care system.
“This prestigious award is given annually to someone who exhibits the finest qualities of family physicians and who goes above and beyond in service to patients and community,” said academy President Del Morris, M.D. “Dr. Kakutani’s tireless efforts benefit individual patients, the people of her town and the state of California and the specialty of family medicine.”
Kakutani, who is on the medical staff at Sutter Davis Hospital, focuses on issues such as improving patients’ access to care by transforming health care delivery into the patient-centered medical home model; addressing the primary-care physician shortage that plagues rural areas; increasing the number of primary-care physicians trained in California; and strengthening the Medi-Cal program.
Kakutani moved to Winters in 1989 to join a small family medicine practice, bringing a full scope of medical services ranging from obstetrics and gynecology to primary and preventive care and mental health care. Her compassion and dedication to patients these many years is legendary.
When she had to take a medical leave in 2013 because of personal illness, her patients and practice team members rallied, much the way she had been at their sides during their previous illnesses. Kakutani returned to full-time practice earlier this year.
She is a leader and role model among peers as an active spokeswoman for the specialty of family medicine as well as for family physicians’ roles in life-work balance, physician education and legislative advocacy. From participating in events such as Relay for Life and Little League in Winters to running campaigns at the national American Academy of Family Physicians Congress of Delegates, Kakutani works to create healthy communities at the individual, local, state and national levels.
She is a past president of CAFP and has chaired CAFP delegations to the California Medical Association and AAFP. She also has advocated for her patients and her specialty as a member of CAFP’s Legislative Affairs Committee, served as chair of the Family Medicine Political Action Committee, delivered frequent testimony to members of the California Legislature and often has been quoted in statewide and national media coverage of key health policy issues.