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ISW, IMANE join forces to offer free health services

Friday, October 12, 2007 12:34 PM | Deleted user

Weekly facility reaches out to underserved in community

SHREWSBURY, Mass. undefined Inside the India Center in Shrewsbury, Mass., on Oct. 12, two Sunday school classrooms looked like doctor’s offices. The glass windows on the doors were covered, an examination table was unfolded, and wooden tongue depressors were on top of a desk normally used by teachers.

The Indian Medical Association of New England and the India Society of Worcester have teamed up to open the Free Stop Health Facility at the society’s India Center. The facility opened for the first time on Oct. 12, and it will be open every Wednesday night from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The facility will provide medical help to the uninsured and the underserved of the community, and it is open to everyone, Indians and non-Indians alike. Patients will not be charged for a doctor’s services. According to Dr. Sahdev Passey, the past president of IMANE and the medical director of the health facility, Free Stop Health Facility is meant to help people who cannot pay for the “skyrocketing” costs of health care. He said they will help those who need non-emergency medical attention. “It is something to give back to the community,” he said. Passey, who was also the president of the India Society of Worcester from 1990 to 1994, said IMANE began planning this community service project in 2003. This year, the society offered their India Center for the health facility. “These doctors are part of our community,” said Meera Gupta, the ISW president said. “They are giving their valuable time for the community.” Along with physicians like Passey, who is a pediatrician from a private practice in Worcester, doctors who specialize in other medical areas like hypertension, diabetes, and obstetrics and gynecology will also be available. Passey, who will be there every Wednesday, said his group will advertise which specialist will be at the facility beforehand. Passey said that he plans to have about three doctors at the health facility every week.

According to IMANE, the health facility will also provide information on health issues and a person’s diet. However, Dr. Purnima Sangal, who is the president of the association and a gynecologist at the Lowell General Hospital and the Saints Memorial Medical Center in Lowell, Mass., said that no narcotics will be given out at the health facility. She said that she does not want people coming to their facility who have no ailments and simply want a refill of their prescription. Gupta said volunteers will work at the health facility to assist doctors. She said that all volunteers will sign forms to keep a patient's medical records private. One of those volunteers on opening night was Ragini Seth, the vice president of ISW, who said she plans on being there to help every Wednesday night. Seth said that she thought the health facility was a noble operation. “Whenever you can volunteer, you do,” she said. Although this health facility is open to everyone, Passey said that he felt a facility for Indians to go to for their health needs was not available in the community, and was needed. “This piece was missing,” he said. “Hopefully, we will fulfill some pieces of it.” However, Passey said that in the two weeks since the health facility has been open, no one has come in yet. He said that he will give it two to three more months to see if anyone comes in, but he is optimistic that people will start coming in soon.

The Indian Medical Association of New England was founded in 1978 and has about 350 members. It is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. ISW was founded in 1963, and has about 380 members. The society’s India Center was built a year ago. Free Stop Health Facility will be open every Wednesday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at India Center, 152 West Main St., Shrewsbury, Mass.

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