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Sixty for Sixty Spotlight

Karl Watts, MD

Featured 12/20/2019

For the past 25 years, Dr. Karl Watts has provided strong leadership in the Boise medical community, bringing innovation to Idaho and standing up as a voice for the underserved both locally and internationally.  Watts arrived in Boise in 1988 to finish his medical training at the Family Practice Residency of Idaho. Later, he served as interim director at FMRI, helped establish its sports medicine program, and served as a clinical associate professor for the University of Washington, Department of Family Medicine. He is medical director of the Patient Centered Medical Home transformation at Saint Alphonsus Health System and practices family medicine at Saint Alphonsus Medical Group – Overland.

But it is as co-founder of Genesis Community Health (formerly Genesis World Mission) that he is probably best known. Watts began his international medical work in 1985 in Ecuador while attending school at the Medical College of Virginia. It was there that he made a life-long commitment to providing health care to those most in need. Since then, Watts has continued to fulfill his medical mission work in other developing nations, and has been involved in outreaches in Kenya, India, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala and the Philippines, working on both short-term medical mission trips as well as long term community health improvement projects.

In 2001, Watts co-founded Genesis World Mission with an initial focus on addressing the unmet health needs of people in the developing world. However, when the local medical community came together to tackle the issue of a closing free clinic, Dr. Watts offered Genesis World Mission to open and operate the Garden City Community Clinic in 2003. Since then, the clinic has utilized volunteer healthcare professionals to provide care to thousands of uninsured people. Under his leadership, Watts also established the Volunteer Physician Network which brokers donated specialty services to local free clinics.

With his hands serving the community, Dr. Watts also became a voice for health care reform. In 2007, Dr. Watts was selected as the only physician member of the Governor’s Select Committee on Health Care. Through work on this committee, Dr Watts became a strong advocate and promoter of the patient-centered medical home model of care, which eventually became part of Idaho’s Statewide Healthcare Innovation Plan (SHIP) which started in 2013.

Watts has been active in the Idaho High School Activity Association’s Sports Medicine Advisory Board and helps organize the high school physicals screening each spring for Centennial High where he is a team doctor.

Watts has received many awards and accolades, including the Family Physician of the Year by AAFP (2009), IAFP’s Idaho Family Physician of the Year (2008), Treasure Valley Lions Community Man of the Year (2008), Boise Rotary Foundation’s Bob Gibb Fellowship Award (2006), Ada County Medical Society Physician of the Year (2005), Bob Lebow Community Health Award (2004), Idaho Medical Group Managers Association’s Physician of the Year (2003) and City of Garden City Friend of the City (2003). He was given a key to the City of Garden City in 2010 by Mayor John Evans.

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