A Rochester doctor received the first Golisano Health Leadership Award on Thursday, for his decades-long career helping medically underserved communities.
Dr. Steve Sulkes, a professor of pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital, works with children with developmental and behavioral challenges. Sulkes has also focused extensively on increasing access to healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities.
“I’ve been trying to help community providers become comfortable and welcoming and accessible for people with developmental disabilities, and this is the next logical step,” said Sulkes after accepting the award.
Guest of honor, Tom Golisano, attended the ceremony in the Saunders Research Building at University of Rochester Medical Center. He said Sulkes is a deserving recipient for two reasons.
“He’s involved in so much, that’s one thing. The other thing an award like this does is it inspires other people to be thinking, ‘What kind of work does [Steve]do? Can I do that kind of work?’ ”said Golisano.
People with intellectual disabilities are part of one of the largest and most medically underserved disability groups across the globe. Millions with intellectual disabilities lack access to quality health care and experience dramatically higher rates of preventable disease, chronic pain and suffering, and premature death in every country in the world.
“The goal is for everybody to be included and participating in their community and you have to be healthy to do that. If you have to travel 50 miles to see a doctor who knows what they’re doing, that’s a shame,” said Sulkes.
The Golisano Health Leadership Award was established in 2016 in partnership with Special Olympics International and the Golisano Foundation.