Group releases first-ever directory of South Asian doctors in New England
Kapasi DEDHAM, Mass. - Under Dr. Onaly Kapasi's hand, the Indian Medical Association of New England had one of its most productive years in recent times. The group celebrated this success at its 26th annual meeting, held on Nov. 20 in Dedham. At the event, Kapasi capped off his year at the association's helm and welcomed the group's new president, Dr. Lalit Savla. Before Kapasi faded from the spotlight though, he took the time to kick off the evening and detail the group's accomplishments.
The association, which was founded in 1978 to support medical professionals of Indian origin in the region, added close to 100 new members in the last year. It also gained 10 new life members, upping its total to about 109 life members. Kapasi was excited to report that the association had followed through with his stated focus on medical education by holding several additional meetings last year that featured continuing medical education programs for credit. These meetings - held in the spring and summer - had good attendance and were able to pay for themselves, according to Kapasi. In the last year, the association launched its medical journal club, the first such endeavor for the group. The association also published a medical report in the form of an osteoporosis study on Indian-Americans. The association carried on the success of its charitable projects in 2004.
The group held two health fairs - one in Boston and one in Rhode Island. The group continued its work with the Waltham Area Free Health Center, which aids people who have inadequate or no insurance. Association members have volunteered time, services and money to keep the center running. In the past year, the group has established a medical student rotation at the Waltham clinic. Through this program, a first for the association, medical students from Tufts University spend time working at the clinic as part of their education. Having medical students working at the clinic is a tremendous help and supports the future of the center, Kapasi said. Wrapping up a year of firsts, the group has also published its first-ever directory of South Asian doctors in New England.
The directory has more than 500 names and contact information. Kapasi said the publication of the directory ends a long journey that began in the late 1970s when the group first got off the ground. He said there has always been talk of a publishing a directory, and he is satisfied to have finally been part of the group that brought it to fruition.
Kapasi, an orthopedic surgeon at the Merrimac Valley Medical Center in Haverhill, credited much of the association's recent success to the executive committee. "I had a great team spirit all around me," he said. "The executive committee was exemplary in all its facets. "I cannot and will not say that all I have done was me. It was not. It was a team," he added. The group's 2004 executive committee consisted of: Kapasi, president; Sahdev Passey, past president; Lalit Savla, president elect; Apurv Gupta, secretary; Manorama Mathur, treasurer; Manorma Sharma, Purnima Sangal, Birendra Sinha, Nandita Kapoor, members at large; and Deepa Jhaveri, young physicians representative. Kapasi told the physicians gathered at the annual meeting that he hopes the group can put aside some of its inconsistency from the past and continue forward on a cemented course for the future. New president Lalit Savla accepted Kapasi's challenge and acknowledged he had a big act to follow. "I cannot fit into the shoes Dr. Kapasi has," Savla said. "He will always be part of IMANE to help us and guide us when we need him." Savla set as his top priority the "happiness and well being" of the association's members. In this regard, his goals are to ensure members' grievances are heard, add more members and bring more enthusiasm. For Savla, one sure way to bring enthusiasm is to recruit younger members. "We have a bit of the empty-nest syndrome. The young doctors have left; we want them back," he said. He also emphasized the need for a cohesive group. "We need to leave our regional differences behind and work together," he said. "I would like to bring more unity and keep everyone happy and more productive." Savla will establish a new committee to specifically focus on the ideas of members and address what they think the association should do. As another priority for his tenure as president, Savla aims to improve the financial unity of the group.
"We may have lofty ideas, but we can't deliver them," he said. The group needs to organize more fund-raising to support projects and initiatives, he added. Savla is hoping to start a fund-raising effort through which all members of the group donate $100. He pledged that his $100 would be the first. Savla suggested the group learn from the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin's recent success in the political arena and strive to become a more politically active group. "AAPI has been tremendous in political organization and I would like IMANE to do the same," he said. "I would like to see IMANE's name spoken in the statehouse." Lastly, Savla praised the close proximity in which the association's board of trustees worked with the executive committee in recent years and promised to continue the trend. "We want them to work with us more and more," he said. "If you work together, I believe we can bring IMANE to a higher height." The annual meeting also featured guest speakers David Cohen, mayor of Newton, and Dr. Jagan Ailinani, president of AAPI.