by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Dr. Richard Westermeyer of Damascus holds a young girl in the days following an earthquake in Haiti. Dr. Richard Westermeyer of Damascus, an anesthesiologist with the Oregon Anesthesiology Group, has been selected from a field of more than 115 national entries as the inaugural international honoree in the Mission:MD Physician of the Year Awards by

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The awards program honors physicians who donate their time to help underserved patients in the United States and abroad gain access to critically needed health care services.

“I am truly humbled to be selected for this award,” Westermeyer said following the award ceremony Tuesday afternoon at Adventist Medical Center. “Providing medical access to those in need in third world countries has been a lifelong calling. I am thankful for my family and medical colleagues here at home, who have allowed me the chance to help those in need.”

Westermeyer practices at Adventist Medical Center in Northeast Portland.

Westermeyer has devoted thousands of hours of time over the past 30 years to medical missions work and charity care, including as a team leader doing disaster relief work during disasters such as a cholera outbreak among Ethiopian refugees in 1984 and in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.

He is part of the disaster response pool with Portland-based Medical Teams International, responding to major international disasters and refugee crises on a regular basis.

He has lectured on disaster response to the Oregon Health Science University global health course for the past three years. And he has served on the board of Christian Family adoption for 12 years. His family has frequently cared for foster babies awaiting adoption.

The Westermeyer family served four times as medical host families for children being brought to U.S. from overseas for advanced surgical procedures by Healing the Children.

In addition to the disaster response work, he has volunteered in free clinics or mission hospitals in Africa, Asia and South America.

For Westermeyer, medical missions work is a family affair.

He met his wife, Ann, a nurse, in medical school, and the two of them immediately began doing mission work together after marriage. Ann was raised by medical missionary parents in New Guinea who subsequently served in Zimbabwe, Africa.

There, they established an orphanage for children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic. Both of the Westermeyer’s daughters are nurses who regularly do long-term mission work in underserved countries.

The $10,000 award will go to Africa Orphan Care. Founded in 2011 by family and like-minded friends such as board president Ron Benfield, the non-profit organization will support several orphanages in Zimbabwe, including the one founded by Westermeyer’s in-laws.

“Dr. Rick Westermeyer is the perfect example of a physician using his training and skills to serve patients who otherwise would have little access to care,” said R. Shane Jackson, president of

“Dr. Westermeyer’s work has touched the lives of thousands. We are proud to help him and his family and friends provide care by supporting Africa Orphan Care.”

“Dr. Westermeyer is a person who sees a need and does something about it. His purpose in life is to make a positive difference for others, and this drives his day-to-day agenda,” said Ron Benfield, board president of Africa Orphan Cares and chief operating officer of Adventist Medical Center. “It’s hard to picture any one more deserving of this honor.”

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