(Ahmedabad, Gujarat: February 19th, 2014) Inspired by the mission to give back to their motherland, nearly two dozen members of Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) devoted their time, talents and skills in a rural village in Gujarat offering medical help, guidance and support to thousands of patients.
Straight from the historic AAPI’s Global Health Summit 2014 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat in early January, these dedicated physicians from across the nation, travelled more than two hours to reach RMS Hospital in Dhandhuka, a rural village with the sole mission of alleviating men, women and children from various diseases. They stayed at the Hospital premises upto seven days, during the camp that lasted until mid-January, meeting patients who had come from different parts of the state.
Organized by the AAPI Charitable Foundation, the first ever Rural Medical & Surgical Camp, in collaboration with Dr Kanti Bhalani of Goodwill Foundation of Florida and Dr Nitin Shah of AAPI’s Medical Missions Committee, the physicians did pro bono services during the health camp, treating over 1,800 patients. Many volunteers also performed specialized surgeries at the RMS Hospital, which serves approximately 450 villages in the region. The facilities at the camp included a simple lab, X-Ray, Ultrasound, and a basic Operating/Surgical suite.
“Our focus has been to provide quality medical care and to educate the public on disease prevention,” said Dr. Nick Shroff, Chair of API’s Charitable Foundation. “We educated patients on prevention of disease, hygiene, diet management etc. Many people with illnesses such as heart problems, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and various infections are not diagnosed timely and addressing these issues was also our goal. In addition, our medical colleagues in Gujarat were able to appreciate the world class health care delivery systems and adapt their working environment with the help of AAPI volunteers. We expect that this will have a lasting impact in the care being given to the people of the area,” he added.
Dr. Jayesh Shah, president of AAPI, examined several patients with diabetes and associated wounds, and performed procedures on needy patients. Dr Rakesh Gupta, a pulmonologist, and his wife, Neelam, an internist, made ICU and hospital rounds on sick patients with the staff physicians. They primarily treated patients who had Diabetes, Hypertension, Cardiac and Respiratory problems. Dr Krishan Aggarwal helped treat several patients, many of whom had dermatological ailments. Drs Madhu Aggarwal and Kanti Bhalani performed various Gynacological procedures, collected Pap smears, and delivered babies. Drs Jaishree Jagirdar and Dipika Shironi, were actively involved in Cervical cancer screening and performed over 100 PAP smears. The slides were fixed and stained using rapid PAP stain kit, donated by USA vendors. Pulmonologist, Dr Siva P Sivakumar, also made hospital and clinic rounds on sick patients with the staff physicians.
Dr Suvas Desai and Dr. Shroff performed a Cystoscopy and Transurethral resection of the prostate, a bladder biopsy with resection of a bladder tumor engulfing the left ureteral orifice. Drs Sanat Gandhi and Nitin Shah provided excellent anesthesia during the procedures. Drs Ajay Bhora and Krishna Khandala of eSerona Health helped update physician profiles, basic patient records in a safe and secure manner. Eventually this application portal can address issues such as specialist unavailability in remote areas, streamline manpower and ease deployment in medically under-accessed regions.
Dr Nat Rajpara treated several patients at the nearby Timbi Hospital. At the PNR Society and Bahgini Mandal hospital, Bhavnagar, there were other physicians who had treated several patients. Dr. Bhushan Pandya performed nearly 20 GI procedures. Anesthesia was provided by Drs Nitin Shah and Sanat Gandhi and was assisted by Jasmine Pandya. Drs. Bhalani, Vijay Katukota, and Deepal Pandya did Pap smears on about 70 patients. Dr. Sirohi did the smearing and reading of the Pap smears. DePaul did a phenomenal job of explaining to the patients the significance of a Pap smear for screening of cervical cancer and also advised women about breast examinations for early detection of breast cancer.
Dr Ravi Jahagirdar, president-elect of AAPI, and his wife, Dr Udita along with Dr. Amish Parikh and Dr. Ajeet Singhvi were others who were part of the medical team.
Upon their arrival, the physicians were given a rousing formal reception during which several local leaders from the region praised the dedication of these physicians for taking their time out to meet these needy patients.
Addressing the audience, Dr. Jahagirdar, said, “We were overwhelmed by the generous hospitality of our hosts. This was indeed a fulfilling experience and we look forward to the next year. We want such camps to take place, at least once a year, on a regular basis. We need to strategize what needs to be done to optimize functioning of rural health camps.”
According to Dr. Shah, “Overall, our rural camp proved to be a tangible way to build a relationship between AAPI and the clinics in Dhandhuka, Timbi, and Bhavnagar. This raised awareness of the latest in medical management and how to optimize resources. Since we wanted to do this in a meaningful and productive way, this was an organizational commitment, requiring coordination, infrastructure, and outstanding teamwork by many dedicated volunteers. We plan to involve local NGO’s and local volunteer doctors in the future to continue making it a rewarding experience for all involved.”
AAPI-CF plans to incorporate operational and educational meetings between clinics managers and staff. “We encourage practicing doctors, physicians in training, and medical students to periodically volunteer to work in various clinics in 1 to 4-week stretches. AAPI-CF will make every effort to accommodate their requests,” Dr. Shah stated.
AAPI wants to take this unique way of giving back to the community to the next level. The next health camp is being organized at the AAPI Charitable Foundation Clinic in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh for three days, starting on March 1st, 2014 “If you have been thinking of helping and did not know how to proceed, then here is an opportunity to help in an organized and meaningful manner. I sincerely hope that we will continue with this concept of conducting health camps and enhance it in future years. The strength of our organization depends on the generous support of our members and for that we are eternally grateful,” Dr. Nick Shroff, stated. For more information, please visit: www.aapiCharitableFoundation.org