Refugees Northwest honors a legendary local physician

Refugees Northwest Taste of the World gala on May 4th will honor Dr. Rich Kovar of Country Doctor Community Health Clinic, a legendary colleague in service to asylum seekers in our community.


After Dr. Kovar’s training at Oregon Health and Sciences University Medical School, he cared for migrant farmworkers in this country and refugees in overseas camps in Cambodia and Ethiopia.  He also provided opium detoxification treatment in the ‘Golden Triangle’ area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet.

Dr Kovar portrait

His experiences led him back to the one of the oldest community health clinics in the Northwest, Country Doctor in Seattle, where he serves today as a family physician.

“He really was the first one who would take on the work of evaluating asylum seekers, those people who have claimed their legal right to apply for asylum in the U.S. due to life-threatening circumstances in their countries of origin.  For more than twenty years, he’s helped people receive a medically accurate physical evaluation that can be used in court,” says Beth Farmer, Refugees Northwest Director.

Those who receive physical and mental evaluations that confirm their histories have a much better chance of earning their asylum status.

Dr. Kovar has actively trained other physicians and mental health professionals in the nuances of evaluating asylum seekers, torture survivors among them, in a thoughtful and culturally appropriate manner.

Dr Kovar in action

“We are honoring him,” Farmer continues, “because of his more than two decades of service and dedication to the most vulnerable among us.  Because of him, hundreds of people who feared for their lives have found safety in the U.S.  His ability to maintain hope in a place filled with such darkness is truly an inspiration!”

If you can join us May 4th to pay tribute to this remarkable community physician, please follow this link to purchase Taste of the World tickets. They are going fast, so act soon!