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Exclusive feature on MAPI: Michigan Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage
Interviewed and Written by: Anu Gopalakrishnan
What makes MAPI a credible organization serving the interests of the community? From cutting-edge reforms, advocacy, educational workshops, leadership in health care, the organization has come a long way since the downpour of the so called International Medical Graduates during the Vietnam War. What has changed, what has moved people, why does MAPI still exist, what value does it bring to the community and why should we support. FOMAPI will be holding their spectacular annual fundraiser at the beautiful Ford Performing and Community Arts Center on September 6th with musical arrangement by Narendra Sheth along with a galaxy of singers and musicians. (Click here for event details). All proceeds of the show go towards purchase of medical equipment and supplies for the free health clinic located in Southfield.
Miindia.com provides a special feature on MAPI- the Michigan Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage. Interviewed and written by Anu Gopalakrishnan. Read on…
Initially called Physicians of Indian Americans, MAPI- the Michigan Association of Physicians of Indian heritage has come a long way since 1976. According to Dr. Swarn Rajpal, the President of MAPI, there are two reasons to switch names – one, the new generation of doctors are not born in India and second, a set of physicians getting inter married. There has also been a sea change in health care that has resulted in positions becoming salaried instead of private practices being set up.
MAPI changes the way we look at the Medical community
MAPI was a voice for physicians to professionally connect and network, to create a cultural setting for physicians coming from India. As Dr. Rajpal indicates, there were different levels of qualifications required for internships and licensing if born in the USA versus India. MAPI then became the political voice and strived hard to create equal opportunities for doctors. As candidly stated, at one point “University of Michigan would not even look at applications of doctors of foreign origin”, MAPI had to step in to make changes in the process. A victim to such systemic prejudice, Dr. Rajpal mentioned how he could not avail of several opportunities early on in his career just because he was from India.
A sea change from where we were to where we are
From second class citizens while many poured in during Vietnam War (1964-65 saw a whole train of international medical graduates coming into the United States), to a proud community of leaders and achievers, MAPI has set a beautiful trend of changing norms and mind sets of people.
Like Dr. Rajpal, several other physicians were denied opportunities to further their career goals, intrinsic and complex processes formed by university committees, exploitation of International Medical Graduates, the prejudice shown on doctors at medical facilities were all reasons for MAPI to be formed. Several passionate and committed doctors have since then been involved and today, the reason the medical community is being looked upon as proud contributors and leaders of health care in Michigan is because of the struggle of several first generation physicians. The dedication and leadership shown by Drs. Krishna Sawhney, Dr. Apparao Mukkamala, past chairman of the Michigan State Medical Society is still spoken about. Dr. Bobby Mukkamala is currently leading that baton of change.
Currently, MAPI has extended its membership to Physician Assistants as well. According to Dr. Rajpal, MAPI is undergoing a generational transition. What it means is that the new generation does not have the same issues as the first generation doctors. So, the objectives and mission has been slightly altered to contain some amount of altruism and at the same time provide what serves best for these young members. There are educational events for residents and students that build networking relationships as several need tips to start their own practices, build a referral base, contacts in hospitals etc.
MAPI Auxiliary comes into existence
With a membership of 816, and a distribution list of 1500 individuals, MAPI has been an integral part of networking and political activism in Michigan. Several social activities were added as non-physician spouses of MAPI members formed an Auxiliary unit which spread the culture of India and has since been educating the community about how healthy lifestyle can lead to a healthy mind. Their health fairs conducted in temples and other religious sanctuaries have been widely commended. The MAPI-Auxiliary has also stepped in during disasters such as the Gujarat relief fund, Katrina disaster relief, Pakistan relief fund, Doctors outside Borders etc.
A boon for the non/less insured – FOMAPI rises to the occasion
While MAPI was making a sea change in the mainstream health care industry through education, reforms, advocacy, practice and research, the beautiful “giving back to the community” bit happened with the creation of FOMAPI. According to Dr. Mario De Meireles, President of FOMAPI- operating free clinics, health fairs and supporting charities has always been their motto. FOMAPI remains committed to its mission and vision to provide help to less fortunate in our communities and also improve health awareness through excellent educational programs. According to Dr. Mario, there is a continuing need to serve the underserved, individuals with no insurance or under insured parents who visit their children in Michigan. There is a huge population in Hamtramck where small business owners like salon workers, plumbers, electricians etc. do not have insurance.
FOMAPI’s Saturday free clinic program serves these individuals who work hard for a living but who are unable to stay healthy. The Free Clinic was an ongoing effort for several years being operated from Dr. Raval’s office in Taylor. Since then, FOMAPI has acquired its own clinic to serve the community. Located in Southfield, about 100 MAPI doctors of who 30-35 are active work as volunteer physicians and dedicate one Saturday a year to address health issues. Beaumont and Oakwood Hospitals work in collaboration with FOMAPI. To provide continuity, a paid Physician Assistant has been on board. FOMPAI has been conducting the health fairs with the Auxiliary staff at least four times a year in collaboration with the Canton Hindu Temple and Bharatiya Temple of Troy while the Sikh Gurudwara Health Fair event is held at Providence Hospital campus in Novi and also in Grand Rapids.
Former MAPI President (1994) Dr. Ashok Jain mentions that MAPI makes a solid contribution to the community. Dr. Jain, who is also the Chief of Staff at Oakwood Hospital has been instrumental in organizing free health fairs at the Canton Hindu Temple. Thousands of residents have been screened at these events. As a Board of Trustee for Oakwood Healthcare, Dr. Jain facilitates organizational support from Oakwood.
According to Dr, Mario, the goal is to bring the FOMAPI clinic in Southfield to the level of efficiency- imperative to run it in present day. That requires the clinic to come in line with others that provide qa specific standard of assistance. According to Dr. Mario, “hospitals are eager to support FOMAPI. We would like to have EMR’s so that the patients can easily read and we can easily disseminate information to our hospitals. The clinic needs to be technologically advanced. Most of the funds go towards improving the quality of care that is provided in the clinic and make it sustainable.
Dr. Mario also excitedly states that “this is the first year the FOMAPI clinic has a medical director and a PA and this is also the first year where FOMAPI has formally agreed to have medical students rotate here”. Dr. Mario shares an ambitious dream of extending the free clinic to two days a week provided sufficient funds are raised.
FOMAPI Annual Fundraiser promises to be engaging and fun!
To support FOMAPI’s free clinic program every Saturdays, the non-profit charitable wing has partnered with Geetmala’s Narendra Sheth to provide a galaxy of singers and instrumentalists who will all come together to relive Bollywood in a visual spectacle on September 6th. Not to miss, some amazing talent will be seen performing at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn. All funds will be used to purchase medical equipment and supplies to provide patients quality health care at FOMAPI free Health Clinic located at 28235 Southfield Rd, Lathrup Village, MI 48076. Click here for event details…
Interviewed and written by: Anu Gopalakrishnan www.facebook.com/rockinraaga
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