Indian Medical Association of Southern California
IMASC Celebrates 29th Annual Convention
More than 400 doctors and their guests celebrated the 29th anniversary of the Indian Medical Association of Southern California (IMASC). The annual gala banquet and cultural program were held the evening of Saturday, November 17th at the Crowne Plaza Resort Anaheim. The themes of the banquet presentations were “California Health Care Reforms” and “Universal Health Coverage.”
As a testimonial to the strength of IMASC, for the first time in history, presidents of California Medical Association as well as Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino county medical associations along with many past presidents gathered under one roof to celebrate its 29 years of accomplishments. The distinguished guests included Drs. Richard Frankenstein, Ralph De Libero, Satinder Swaroop, S. Ava Mahapatra, Clifford Walters, Dawn Bruner and Mahesh Gupta. Dr. Swaroop is also the current president of Network of Ethnic Physician Organizations, a subsidiary of California Medical Association.
Dr. Richard Frankenstein, President of the California Medical Association (CMA) and Chief Guest of the evening, gave the first presentation related to these themes. Dr. Frankenstein informed IMASC members of CMA’s capability to advocate politically for California’s doctors, but he added that this depends on CMA’s membership. After urging IMASC’s doctors to join CMA, he asked that these doctors “revel in what you do.” “You bring magic to patients,” he added.
The Keynote Speaker for the evening was Dr. Richard E. Brown, a professor at UCLA’s School of Public Health and the founder and director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. In his speech, Dr. Brown voiced his support of the health plan proposed by Democratic Presidential candidate and Illinois state Senator Barack Obama. This plan, Brown explained, would provide the same health care benefits that members of the U.S. Congress receive. Banquet presentations included reports by the IMASC Board of Trustees Chairperson, Dr. Moti Daswani, a Lakewood, California nephrologist, and Dr. Naren Gurbani, current IMASC president and director of foot and ankle surgery at Kaiser Permanente in Bellflower, California.
Dr. Gurbani spoke of the accomplishments of IMASC under his leadership in 2007. The primary goal of IMASC has always been to provide high quality continuing medical education for its physician members. Due to Dr. Gurbani’s efforts, the number of continuing medical education credit hours doubled to a total of 24. To reflect the multi-specialty nature of the association, a variety of new topics were presented throughout the year by renowned speakers in their respective fields. To address the concern of traveling distances for CME by inland empire members, a mini educational seminar was held in June at Loma Linda University followed by an annual summer picnic in the area.
Dr. Gurbani stated that he was particularly proud of expanding outreach in the field of community service. Besides continuing Health Check-up clinics at the Mandir, IMASC expanded community service involvement by leaps and bounds. “News You Can Use” monthly article was introduced in collaboration with the India Journal weekly. Seven articles were published starting in March which discussed current health issues in layman’s language.
The charity projects of IMASC’s for 2007 included their support of Sankara Eye Foundation’s March 2007 benefit concert, Drishti, which drew an audience of 1200. According to Dr. Gurbani, the year 2007 was also a period of new collaborations for IMASC. The association is now providing medical support to the South Asian Help and Referral Agency (SAHARA). IMASC fully supports drives by for Miracle Marrow Matches (A3M) to increase the national donors’ data base for bone marrow transplants.
In 2007, IMASC introduced town hall-style Health Forums as part of the India Independence Day festival. During two such forums held in August, seventeen of IMASC physician experts answered a multitude of health related questions from the eagerly inquiring public.
To increase meaningful participation by hardworking younger generation of physicians, IMASC created a new MSRF forum as a part of the annual CME seminar during which medical students present their world-class research papers. To guarantee the unbiased selection of Medical Student Scholarship Awards and MSRF Research Awards, a true “double blind” method has been implemented. IMASC also established a “Young Physician Section” for physicians who are new to the profession. These members will receive a permanent 25% reduction in life membership dues.
Since membership is the backbone of any organization, a membership campaign entitled “Each One Bring One” was implemented, and 42 new life members were added. As a result, Network of Ethnic Physicians Organization (NEPO) of CMA has recognized that IMASC is the largest and most proficiently administered ethnic medical organization in the state.
At the banquet, several IMASC awards were granted. Dr. Jagat Narula, a cardiologist at the University of California, Irvine, received the 2007 Physician of the Year Award for his lifetime achievements in academic medicine. The 2007 Physician Service Award was presented to Dr. Nitin Shah, an anesthesiologist at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. Dr. Shah has organized and participated in a number of projects designed to provide free health care in Southern California and in India. The Medical Student Scholarship Awards Committee presented five scholarship awards to the following medical students: Sheila Krishna, Neil Vyas, Priyanka Wali, Nitin Dhamija, and Sarika Desai.
Following the transfer of the IMASC President’s gavel, Dr. Jayshree Vyas, an obstetrician and gynecologist and incoming president of IMASC, pledged to continue her support of Dr. Gurbani’s 2007 projects. She also plans to add a spiritual committee to the organization.
The vote of thanks was given by IMASC Treasurer Dr. Janak Chopra, banquet attendees enjoyed a North Indian buffet dinner. The entertainment program “Exquisite India” celebrated the rich cultural heritage of India by presenting classical dances from four corners of the motherland. Over 60 acclaimed artists from southland dance companies participated. They included Shakti Dance Company, Natyanjali Foundation of Performing Arts, Odissi Dance Circle and Noopur Dance Academy. Tom Sheridan enthralled the members with his satire comedic depiction of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The evening was brought to a close with contemporary dance performances by Bollywood Step.