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Samaritan to Host Dinner to Recognize Physicians: Dr. Karl J. Komar to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Published on: March 14, 2024

Watertown, NY – Samaritan Medical Center will host its tenth Physician Recognition Dinner on Thursday, April 11, 2024. This event, supported by the Samaritan Medical Center Medical Executive Committee and Samaritan Foundation, is held annually on or around National Doctors’ Day to honor Samaritan’s active and retired physicians for their dedication.

As part of this event, one physician is selected to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was established to recognize a Samaritan physician for his/her leadership and service to the health and well-being of the Northern New York community. Whether in their private practice, hospital duties, Board or Medical Staff leadership positions or volunteer work, Samaritan’s physicians dedicate their time and talent to making the community a better place to live.

The 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Karl J. Komar, MD, a neonatologist, in recognition of his 30-year commitment to Samaritan Medical Center as the original and lead neonatologist.

Dr. Komar is from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received his medical degree from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI in 1977 and completed a pediatric residency program at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI.  He then went on to complete a fellowship in neonatology at Wyler Children’s Hospital, Chicago, IL. He practiced as a neonatologist in Grand Rapids and Dearborn, MI prior to relocating to Watertown. 

In 1994, Dr. Komar joined Samaritan Medical Center’s medical staff.  Since Dr. Komar’s arrival, the Samaritan Level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) has flourished with his expertise to care for those babies born after 32 weeks gestation needing extra care to develop and thrive.  He has spent countless hours caring for our most precious newborns in need of a higher level of care after their birth. It is a space and a role he has been dedicated to for 30 years, oftentimes working 24 hours a day. “The Level 2 NICU existed before I arrived here, but it has grown and developed significantly with the support from Kinney Drugs, our outstanding nursing staff, and Samaritan’s administration” said Dr. Komar.

As a specialist in his field, Dr. Komar has held leadership roles at Samaritan serving as Medical Staff President in 2011 and 2012 and in pediatrics/neonatology as the chair for the department for many years – in fact the longest of any member of our medical staff.  He has cultivated relationships with surrounding facilities to help newborns receive care at the Level 4 Regional Perinatal Center at Crouse Hospital, and accepting transfers to our NICU when the newborns are progressing so they can be closer to home.  Samaritan’s Level II NICU is the only NICU in the tri-county region, and Dr. Komar has been a large part of its longevity in the community.  The need for the NICU was in part due to the connection Samaritan has with Fort Drum and the large number of births we see each year allowing Samaritan to care for military families closer to home. 

Dr. Komar and the NICU team were instrumental and humbled when the new NICU opened in 2012 within the Car-Freshner Center for Women and Children.  Their vision to create a family-centric space with private areas, updated equipment, and a dedicated unit came to fruition. A major pride point for Dr. Komar has been his work and advocacy efforts for the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) program at Samaritan.  Each year Dr. Komar supports CMN to help raise funds for local families in need, and to support pediatric equipment needed in the child-centered areas.  He helps engage families through the annual Radiothon event, encourages families to use the direct-family assistance program, and has been part of the allocation committee that helps determine where the funds raised will be used.

Dr. Komar’s connection with the families and newborns he cares for are at the core of his lifetime achievement.  So many lives have been touched through this specialized service. 

“This annual event is a time to honor our physicians and celebrate the essential role they play in caring for our patients and our community,” said Thomas H. Carman, president and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center. “Dr. Komar’s long-standing commitment to providing specialized neonatal care for our smallest, most vulnerable patients and their families has had a tremendous impact on so many lives. Our community is fortunate to have a team of exceptional physicians such as Dr. Komar that have dedicated their lives to the practice of medicine and demonstrate excellence in providing patient care every day.”

Dr. Komar resides in Watertown.  He has two children, Alysia and Michael, who both live in California. He continues to be inspired by the memory of his late wife Antoinette.

The Physician Recognition Dinner will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, 2024 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Watertown. This event is open to the community. Tickets are $55 per person. For more information or to RSVP, please visit www.samaritanhealth.com/physiciandinner, or call 315-785-4584.

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