Julian Kuffler, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Care Coordination and Community Health Center physician, has been selected as this year’s nominee for the statewide Caregiver of the Year Award presented by the Maine Hospital Association. The MHA Caregiver of the Year Award is presented annually by the Maine Hospital Association to recognize a caregiver from a member institution who, on a daily basis, demonstrates extraordinary commitment to the delivery of care to patients and their families. The winner of the 2016 Caregiver of the Year Award will be presented at the MHA Summer Forum on June 22.
Dr. Kuffler projects an unerring calm and a gentle kindness that instantly sets his patients at ease says Lauri Kandutsch, Community Health Center Practice Manager. “When I worked at MDI Hospital as a CNA, Dr. Kuffler’s bedside manner stood out like none other. He would literally sit on the bed and talk – I mean really talk with, not to, his patients. I learned and continue to learn so much from him. He is an honest, brilliant, kind and fair physician who treats patients from every walk of life with the same care and respect.”
During his 30-year career as a trusted family physician, Dr. Kuffler has dedicated his natural aptitude for problem-solving to finding innovative solutions to the unique health challenges of the community that he serves. “I can’t stop my mind from thinking,” he says. “So I started feeding it problems and issues that should have solutions.”
He has always had a keen interest in public health, which led him to earn both a Masters of Public Health and a Medical Doctorate from Harvard University. “I see myself as a family physician, but I haven’t suppressed my public health gene.” No surprise, considering he is the son of noted Harvard neurobiologist Stephen W. Kuffler, MD and Harvard-educated pediatrician Phyllis Kuffler, MD, Ph.D.
When Dr. Kuffler sees his patients, he sees the whole person, including the biological, psychological, and social aspects of their lives. “It’s often been said that the key for caring for patients is to truly care for your patients. Dr. Julian Kuffler has used that caring key in his practice every day for 30 years,” says Diehl Snyder, MD, Medical Director, MDI Behavioral Health Center. “I take care of several patients who tell me that it was Dr. Kuffler’s care that helped to save their life in emergency situations.”
Dr. Kuffler often receives letters expressing appreciation for his extraordinary commitment to patient care. One such letter, received recently, reads, “I, along with my siblings, want to convey our deep appreciation for helping Mom (and us) through the end of an era. […] You certainly have a gift, not only with your patients but with their families. […] Please know that we wish you well and hope that you’ll continue to serve our community in your highly competent, dedicated, respectful manner.”
Dr. Kuffler’s many public health accomplishments include significant involvement in the conception, implementation and development of MDI Hospital’s Community Dental Center; MDI Hospital’s Behavioral Health Center; the Swan’s Island Medical Center; and the hospital’s Straus, Diabetes Prevention, and Palliative Care Programs. He is currently working to develop a county-wide treatment center for substance use disorders and to expand the hospital’s palliative care program.
“Dr. Kuffler has a great passion for public health,” says colleague Tanya Hanke, DO, Medical Director of the Community Health Center. “He has worked hard to increase access to medical care, planning and raise money for such facilities as the Community Health Center, the Community Dental Center, and the Straus Program. With the work he has done to bring all these to fruition, MDI Hospital has been able to provide more services that our patients need.”