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Dr. Kimberly Beck - Making Sure You Stay Healthy
March 12, 2014

[image-51]Name: Dr. Kimberly Beck
Title: Medical Director and Physician
Organization: Code 250, Health Unit

Recently arrived physician Dr. Kimberly Beck wants to see you when you’re healthy and keep you that way.

What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?

I’m here to keep people safe and healthy at Goddard. Our primary job is to provide medical surveillance to people exposed to health hazards at work from, for example, chemicals, noise, heat or cold. We also test for any health impacts from physical stresses such as lifting, bending, pushing or pulling. We try to make sure that a person doesn’t have any existing medical problems that would put them at greater risk from these hazards at work. We also treat people who get injured or sick on the job.

Who works at the Health Unit?

We have a full-time nurse coordinator who provides nursing and administrative support, one full-time nurse and one part-time nurse practitioner who can also diagnose and treat under the license of a physician. We also have a part-time receptionist. I’m the only physician.

You have been at Goddard less than a year. What are your plans for the Health Unit?

I’d like to make everyone aware of the services we offer. We recently created a brochure explaining all that we can do for them. I want everyone to take advantage of our wellness services including a free health maintenance exam, free allergy shots if prescribed by a primary care doctor and also free flu shots. We now offer walk-in treatment for acute, non-work related medical problems that appeared within the past 72 hours such as colds, flu, strep throat and urinary tract infections. As warranted, we can provide a prescription for one day’s supply of prescription medication for an employee who lost or forgot to bring his or her necessary medication.

We plan to hold Lunch and Learn sessions on a quarterly basis. The first talk will be on antibiotic resistance. I want to talk about medical topics of interest based on the time of year and current events that may impact the Goddard population.

Do you have a specialty?

It seems like medicine in the workplace is frequently overlooked. I think that employees are most efficient when they are happy and healthy. That’s why I chose to specialize in occupational and environmental medicine, which deals with exposures in the workplace and the environment.

Why did you decide to come to Goddard?

I was an active duty Army physician for twelve years. I then worked at the Pentagon as a civilian physician. Working at Goddard presents a completely different challenge with new and exciting exposures.

Were you stationed overseas?

I was stationed in Korea for one year as a general medical officer providing primary care for the soldiers. Soldiers get sick in Korea just as they do elsewhere. In terms of tropical medicine, malaria and Korean hemorrhagic fever exist in Korea, but they are very rare. The only case of malaria I saw came from South America.

Where else were you stationed?

I spent three years in Pine Bluff, Arkansas as the chief medical officer at a facility that built munitions, smoke grenades and also destroyed chemical weapons. These were a lot of assembly-line jobs, which typically caused repetitive motion injuries. Strains and sprains from heavy lifting or improper lifting technique were also common. The workers used white phosphorous to make the smoke grenades, which, if not handled correctly, could result in chemical burns. We had nerve and blister agents, but we never had an accident involving them.

What are the most common medical issues here?

I have yet to see a lot of work-related injuries or illnesses. I have seen some colds, strep throats, rashes and other common illnesses. I also see a few slips, trips and falls.

Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests or activities outside of work that people do not generally know?

I’m a long-distance runner. I try to run 6 to 12 miles about five days a week. I’ve been in a few half marathons.

Running counteracts my love for cooking. I’ve been known to bring in Death by Chocolate cake, which has 17 ounces of chocolate, and a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust.

Do you like to read?

I’ve always read a lot. I love the classics and also enjoy science fiction. The last book I read was Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”

Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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Dr. Kimberly Beck
Dr. Kimberly Beck
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NASA/W. Hrybyk
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Page Last Updated: March 12th, 2014
Page Editor: Lynn Jenner