Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, medical director of Alaska CARES (Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Services) in Anchorage, received the 2015 Mother Joseph Award from the Sisters of Providence on June 2. 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.
Baldwin-Johnson, one of 37 nominees for this year’s honor, had been a family practice physician for more than 30 years when she felt the call to do something about the unmet needs 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.
“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, Sister of Providence Jo Ann Showalter. “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.”
Ten years ago, 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.
The nominating letter from the 14 staff members at Alaska CARES noted Baldwin-Johnson has shown grace in her work “a quality that is hard to come by in a discipline which faces daily some of the most atrocious crimes.”
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.
Baldwin-Johnson provides education for professional and lay groups and has worked to develop a curriculum and manuals for pediatric and family practice physicians to help them identify and treat children who have been abused, and has published articles on the incidence of abusive head trauma suffered by Alaska children.
“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.”