Karen Gottlieb began her career with Americares Free Clinics in 1994. A graduate of Russell Sage College (BSN) and Columbia Business School (MBA/Finance), her background includes over ten years in clinical nursing field with positions ranging from critical care instructor to designer/director of cardiac rehabilitation, along with other accomplishments including serving as adjunct professor at Yale SON and founder of Connecticut Society for Cardiac Rehabilitation.

After business school, Karen worked for a medical development firm doing new product research, until she returned to nursing and cardiac rehabilitation, which was more personally satisfying a career path. She landed a job at Americares Free Clinics at a time when the concept of a free clinic was only the founders dream and her challenge. To put it together from scratch, she worked with a team of dedicated volunteers to get licensing requirements, partnership agreements and volunteer staff in place. It was a work of love on everyone’s part and it continues to be.

Opening the first clinic in Norwalk CT led to a second clinic three years later in Danbury then on to Bridgeport and most recently Stamford CT. A thriving free clinic network, it encompasses the best of free clinic practices. Licensed by the State of CT, with over 240 volunteers and 27 employees, the clinic delivers high quality care to low income, uninsured and undocumented residents of the area with dignity and respect.

Today health care has been delivered by the clinic and partners to over 26,000 patients.

With an emphasis on comprehensive outpatient care, the clinic is largely comprised of adult patients with chronic illness. Having the tools to care for this vulnerable population was critical. At every step she worked hard to ensure partnerships with hospitals to provide essential diagnostic testing and partnerships with Clinical labs that provided the full range of lab testing – all at no charge to the patient.

Recognizing the need for specialty care for this complex patient population, Gottlieb and her team recruited and organized a wide array of specialists who either come to the clinics, see patients in their private office, or in hospital clinics. Often the team arranges essential procedures and surgeries – saving vision, limbs and lives. The last essential piece for the clinics was to obtain medications to control these acute chronic medical problems. Thousands of free medications have been provided to sustain the clinic patients over the last 24 years.

For over a decade Gottlieb has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Norwalk Hospital. She and her staff are active participants in population health efforts in each clinic location and serve on multiple health committees in the local communities. The program and its accomplishments are testimony to the work that can be done by a passionate team.

The Gold Foundation, one of Nurses With Global Impact’s non-profit partners, first learned of Karen Gottlieb’s work three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. Dr. Dorothy Levine, Director of the Arnold P Gold Foundation Gold Humanism Honor Society, received an urgent request for medical and humanitarian assistance from a medical student at Ponce Health Sciences University.

This institution serves the community on the southern shore of the island where communication to the outside world, both physically and technologically, had been much more severely limited than was initially realized.

The desperation of the situation was apparent, and it seemed that governmental relief efforts were not reaching the area. Dr. Levine reached out to many medical colleagues who were involved in international medical missions; one gave immediate assistance.

That was Dr. David Reed, a surgical colleague who had operated on missions around the globe on behalf of Americares. He requested a concise summary of the situation and personally handed the document to Karen Gottlieb, RN, Founder and Executive Director of Connecticut’s Americares’ Free Clinics. “She’ll figure out how to get them help, she is amazing,” Dr. Reed said.

A few days later Dr. Levine was informed that the Americares team, already hard at work elsewhere on the island, had directed efforts to include much needed assistance to this isolated and devastated community.

Karen continues to live her life in service, and we are thrilled to honor her and share her work and support her future work as part of International Nurses Day, being celebrated at the United Nations May 11, 2018.

Not only is she helping thousands, but she inspiring thousands of nurses and other healthcare professionals, now, to join the very special community of compassionate healers bringing care to those who need it most.

– Deb