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Georgia physicians holds glitzy annual meet

Mahadev Desai
June 2009
Georgia physicians holds glitzy annual meet

The Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage (GAPI) held its annual meeting at a glitzy banquet at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center on Saturday, April 18. Over 250 association members attended the event, along with other guests including Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) President Todd Williamson, M.D.

Earlier in the day, over 50 physicians attended a CME (Continuing Medical Education) program on malpractice issues, practice management and financial management.

During the social hour, the attendees networked, enjoyed snacks and visited about 20 booths set up by pharmaceutical corporations, insurance providers and charitable organizations.

Following the social hour, Pravin Patel, the outgoing president, introduced Commissioner Oxendine. In his engaging and informative speech, Oxendine said he was proud of having the unique distinction of being the only insurance commissioner to receive the American Medical Association’s highest award. He observed that under his leadership, the Insurance Commission had cracked down on HMOs and health care companies that did not pay hospitals and physicians on time. Talking about his intention to run for Governor, he said he would like to improve the quality of health care in rural Georgia through the Internet and also expand the trauma network in the state. California had the largest tele-medicine network in the nation but it took them six years to get there, whereas Georgia had done it in 18 months. And now Georgia was leading all other states in using the tele-medicine network.

MAG (Medical Association of Georgia) President Todd Williamson, in his brief but compelling talk, said MAG was the largest physician organization to represent all physicians and specialists in the state and that he was proud to represent it. He said that MAG had tried to address the issue of the licensing of international medical graduates in Georgia but unfortunately had not succeeded in getting the three-year residency requirement reduced. But the association would not stop pursuing this, he assured the audience. He pointed out that there were parts of Georgia where 70 percent of patients seen by some physicians were Medicaid recipients. Medicaid wanted to reduce their reimbursements by an additional six percent but MAG had happily succeeded in stopping Medicaid from doing this. This year, the association had also worked to bring about the ruling that the term “physician” should apply to only those who have been to medical school and have a license to practice medicine. MAG was also working on fair reimbursement by insurance companies for treating of out-of-network patients and seeking funds for setting up more trauma centers in Georgia. Williamson concluded by appealing to GAPI members to learn more about MAG and become the association’s members as well.

Oxendine and Williamson were given plaques in recognition of their invaluable services.

Dr. Pravin Patel introduced Dr. Raj Gandhi, who has been instrumental in the formation of GAPI. Dr. Raj Gandhi, a thoracic surgeon who has been practicing in Atlanta for the past 30 years, has recently written a book titled Sense of Direction: It Needs To Be Restored Part 1: Healthcare, published by Author House.

Former president Dr. P. Natarajan requested the audience to attend the forthcoming Annual AAPI Convention in Orlando from June 10 to 14, 2009. He lauded outgoing President Pravin Patel and his committee for an outstanding job during their term.

Dr. P. B. Rao, also a former GAPI president, said it was befitting to dedicate the association’s scholarship awards to Dr. Daksha Chudgar, social activist, philanthropist and ailing wife of former GAPI president Dr. Bipin Chudgar. Dr. Rao announced that GAPI had conducted outreach programs like health fairs and helped deserving students with scholarships. This year the association had the opportunity to help Bhutanese refugees settle down in Georgia and had donated 150 school bags and other supplies to Bhutanese students. He recognized three students and SEWA volunteers who were present. GAPI also gives annual scholarship awards of $1,000 and certificates of recognition to a few deserving students. John Oxendine handed these awards to Keyur Patel, Gaurav Bhatnagar, Rithika Rajesh, Shivani Mehta and Rabeea Khan.

Newly elected to GAPI Executive Committee were Dr. Sreeni Gangasani (President), Dr. Dilip Patel (Secretary) and Dr. Abhishek Gaur (Treasurer).

Reflecting on his days as president, Dr. Patel said he had thoroughly enjoyed his term, and had felt a sense of fulfillment beyond measure and thanked his team for its support and services. He recognized senior GAPI members like Dr. P. Natarajan, Dr. P. Rao and Dr. Manoj Shah, who despite their professional commitments, gave long hours of selfless service to GAPI.

Dr.Santanu Das, the incoming president, said he felt honored and humbled to accept the post, and promised to do his best in leading GAPI. He lauded Dr. Patel and his wife Sonal Patel for their hard work, focus, vision, determination and drive, and presented a plaque to Dr. Patel as a token of appreciation by GAPI.

“I would like to declare 2009 as the Year of Young Physicians of Indian Heritage, and urge all young physicians to play an active role in GAPI. We will redesign our Web site to make it more interactive and informative. We will consider reviving GAPI’s Political Action Committee and name it the Political Action and Awareness Committee. GAPI will continue with its philanthropic activities and helping students. With your support GAPI will continue to grow,” Dr. Das said.

After a delectable dinner catered by Bombay Café, members were treated to a standup comedy show by the popular comedian Dan Nainan and a medley of Bollywood songs by the live band Manpasand Mumbai Masti.      

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