NEW YORK CITY (TIP): New York Indian American community had reason to feel proud when a New Yorker Dr. Ajay Lodha took over as the national President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), an organization which leads the largest ethnic medical society in the United States, representing the interests of over 100,000 Indian American physicians. And what he said in his inaugural address at the AAPI convention, after taking over on July 3, made the entire medical fraternity associated with AAPI to celebrate. He said he wants AAPI to be “more vibrant, united, transparent, politically engaged, ensuring active participation of young physicians, increasing membership, enabling that AAPI’s voice is heard in the corridors of power, and thus taking AAPI to new heights.” Surely, for AAPI members, here was a man with a vision and his words indicated a certain determination and resolve.
Dr. Lodha, who was administered the oath of office as the President of AAPI during the 34th annual convention in New York on July 3rd, 2016 vowed to take the more than three decades old organization to the new heights and “bring all the AAPI Chapters, Regions, Members of the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees to work cohesively and unitedly for the success of AAPI and the realization of its noble mission.”
Acknowledging that leading AAPI is a daunting challenge, Dr. Lodha said, “I’m very honored, privileged and consider myself fortunate to announce that I have an excellent group of dedicated, hardworking, and loyal officers and executive committee members who are with me to take AAPI to new heights.”
Dr. Lodha received the gavel from Dr. Seema Jain, the out-going president of AAPI as the more than 2,000 delegates cheered loudly, greeting the new President of AAPI. Along with him, Dr. Gautam Samadder as President-Elect, Dr. Naresh Parikh as Vice President, Dr. Suresh Reddy as Secretary, and Dr. Manju Sachdev as the Treasurer of AAPI, assumed charge in the presence of leading luminaries from across the nation. Dr. Madhu Agarwal assumed charge as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, AAPI from the out-going chairman, Dr. Aravind Pillai. He stressed the importance of having YPS president Aditya Desai and MSRF President Atul Nakshi along with a diversified group of regional directors. “Their leadership will help us move forward with our current and future initiatives.”
An Internist by profession, Dr. Lodha has had experiences in leading almost all areas of Medicine. He owns two Nursing Homes on Long Island, New York and has been credited to be the founder of the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) and the Independent Physicians Association (IPA).
A graduate of RNT Medical College, Udaipur, Rajasthan, Dr. Lodha completed his Residency at the Flushing Hospital, NY. He is the founder and president of Queens Medical Services, a primary care practice with two locations serving Queens, NY since 1995 and is a partner in Hillaire and Nesconset Nursing homes. Dr. Ajay Lodha was appointed a member of the Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos’s MWBE Advisory Council last year.
The New York-based physician and leader, who was honored with the prestigious Ellis Island Medals of Honor on May 7th, this year, rose through the ranks of AAPI and has been elected the President of AAPI. He is a recipient of Lawrence J. Scherr Award of Excellence for being an Outstanding Physi-cian. He has also been honored for Out-standing Contributions to Research & Hypertension Department at the Flushing Hospital, NY. In 2008, he was bestowed with the Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation Physician of the Year Award.
Ajay Lodha hides a power house of entrepreneurial skills. Dr. Lodha has extensive background of overseeing quality assurance and quality improvement. He is a past president of RANA and RAJMAAI (Rajasthan Medical Alumni Associ-ation Inc.),
A past President of AAPI-QLI, Dr. Lodha was a former Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Caritas Health Care System representing St. John’s Hospital and Mary Immaculate Hospital in New York.
Dr. Lodha was appreciative of increased involvement of women within AAPI. “We have a woman as the chair of the Board of Trustees, a woman treasurer, and 33% of this year’s regional directors are women. Women face the added challenge of maintaining the household in addition to their medical careers and their role in AAPI. I am looking forward to a great women’s forum from our women leaders and chair not only in USA but also in India. I salute all the women leaders,” he said.
Soon after assuming office as the President of AAPI, Dr. Lodha declared that he will make every possible effort to restore AAPI’s image and enhance cohesiveness among different Chapters and Regions of AAPI. “When our founders first conceived of AAPI, they could not have imagined how well it would grow and develop. Let us not forget the achievements of those who have come before me. Their hard work and dedication serves as both an inspiration and a challenge to me,” he stated with gratitude and appreciation for the founders of this noble organization.
According to him, “The growing clout of the physicians of Indian origin in the United States is seen everywhere as several physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administration across the nation.” Dr. Lodha’s vision for AAPI is to increase the awareness of APPI globally and help its voice heard in the corridors of power. “I would like to see us lobby Congress for an increase in the number of available Residency Positions so as to help alleviate the shortage of Doctors.”
AAPI has been able to serve as a platform in helping young physicians coming from India to seek residencies and help them in settlement and get jobs. Knowing that AAPI’s growth lies with the younger generation, Dr. Lodha has made it his priority to support and promote YPS and MSRF, the future of AAPI. “We need to host more educational and social activities to get young physicians more involved, and be able to stay connected with AAPI. That younger physicians and MSRF members feel fully integrated into AAPI and take more active roles. They should feel that they are benefitting by joining AAPI, which is, an extended family and they can turn to when in need of support and guidance,” he says. He wants to increase AAPI membership by offering more benefits and opportunities for mem-bers.
Dr. Lodha, with the active support from the General Body, wants to “re-activate AAPI – HEALTH- PAC, commonly known as HEALTH- POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE, which will help raise funds amongst its members to advocate its Health Care issues to give a higher profile.” He urged all interested members to support and join the H-PAC by making a contribution, which will handle the HPAC matters and comply with the reporting requirements. Dr. Lodha wants to offer honorary memberships to past US Presidents, Senators and Congressmen, which will “bring us higher level of recognition and profile in the USA.
“In my role as the President of AAPI in the coming year, I will continue to dedicate my services for the growth of AAPI. I am sure AAPI will grow multiple folds under the current team and will put all my efforts to make sure all the programs supersede from the past.”
One of the major objectives of founding AAPI was to offer a platform and opportunities for members to give back to their mother land and the adopted nation. Realizing this, the new President believes that AAPI members will be provided with opportunities to support charitable activities in India and in the United States and increase donations to AAPI Charitable Foundation.
Endowed with the desire to give back to his motherland and lead AAPI to identify and invest in the delivery of cost effective, efficient and advanced medical care in India, Dr. Lodha says, “AAPI does a lot of work in India. The Global Healthcare Summit 2016, planned to be held in Udaipur, Rajasthan, from December 28-30th this year, will be a great way of achieving our objectives for mother India.”
In 2008, Dr. Lodha was part of a coalition that built a state-of-the-art 11 bed Surgical Intensive Care Unit for Government Hospital located in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India – free care is given to all the patients. Dr. Lodha in his commitment to the health of the community has organized numerous Health Fairs, Blood Pressure Screenings, and Medical Awareness programs as well as the delivery of educational materials at churches, temples and senior centers.
Financial stability is an important area, where Dr. Lodha wants to focus on as President, and promises “to make sincere efforts in making AAPI financially stronger by increasing fund raising activities.”
His leadership and commitment were much appreciated during the nine city Shreya Ghoshal Fund Raising tour by AAPI. Under the stewardship of Past President Dr. Narendra Kumar, the pioneering event generated a record $1.25 million and transformed AAPI’s financial strength as he took over as a Treasurer in early 2012. He was responsible for bringing complete transparency in accounting and keeping the books up to date.
Dr. Lodha is committed to upholding and further augment the ideals for which AAPI stands. “I am confident that my experience, work ethic and firsthand experience in organizing Conventions and fundraisers are best suited to carry on the responsibilities and lead this noble organization to new heights.” In all of his efforts, Dr. Lodha wants to work with his executive committee and all branches of AAPI membership in a congenial and non-competitive manner, focusing on the noble mission of this prestigious organization. His experiences in organizing conferences and meetings which help to bring members together and attract new members is vital to the success of the organization.
The growing influence of doctors of Indian heritage is evident, as increasingly physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administrative positions across the nation. With their hard work, dedication, compassion, and skills, they have thus carved an enviable niche in the American medical community. AAPI’s role has come to be recognized as vital among members and among lawmakers. AAPI is also transitioning into a multiyear thinking and behavior by maintaining core continuity.
Dr. Lodha expressed his sincere gratitude and appreciation to the media, for their continued support. ” As it is said by Mark Twain: “There are only two forces that can carry light to all corners of the globe -the sun in the heaven and the media down here.”
Dr. Lodha calls upon AAPI members to join in this historic journey: “AAPI’s mission is clear, our programs will continue to strive and our impact is infectious on benefiting society. Today I ask you to set aside your differences, and join me in this noble journey to make our mission possible.’
Dr. Lodha lives on Long Island, New York with his wife Dr. Smita and their two children Amit and Shweta. AAPI will continue to be an active player in crafting the delivery of healthcare in the most efficient manner in the United States. “We will strive for equality in healthcare delivery globally.” Dr. Lodha is confident that with the blessings of elders, and the strong support from the total membership of AAPI and his family, he will be able to take AAPI to stability, growth and greater achievements. “A new era has begun. AAPI will continue to discover her own potential to be an active and vital player in shaping the landscape of national healthcare delivery system with a focus on health maintenance than disease intervention,” Dr. Lodha said.