WASHINGTON (TIP): Healthcare is a big issue for new immigrants, especially elderly people. While Medicare is available to virtually all citizens, starting at age 65, immigrants legally present in the U.S. for less than five years are not eligible and private insurance companies generally do not offer health insurance plans for those over 65. Although there are health insurance options, but these are usually catastrophic traveler’s insurance.
Organizers. From L to R: Sam Mukherjee, Mayur Modi, Zafar Iqbal, Dr. Surinder Singh Gill
They usually have a very high deductible and they are very expensive. In view of these harsh realities facing elderly community members from the Subcontinent, the Masjid Gulzar E Madina of Islamic Center Millford Mill Road, Pikesville, Maryland took a bold initiative to organize a first health fair on Sunday 23rd November2014. A number of area community organizations, such as the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) – Metropolitan Washington, Philippines Nurses Association, Chinese Culture and Community Center, Muslim Community Clinic Inc., Silver Spring, Capital Region Telugu Society, Kerala Cultural Organization and Hindu Seva, co-sponsored this event.
A large number of physicians, nurses, and healthcare workers volunteered their resources and worked tirelessly to provide their services for a large number of attendees covering a wide range of ages. An easy access to physicians of diverse specialties under one roof provided convenient consultation for wide range of medical issues. In addition to primary care, the medical specialties available for free consultations in a privacy setting included primary care, endocrinology, gastroenterology, hematology-oncology, otolaryngology, orthopedics, rheumatology, and medical ID cards for the community.
Colgate-sponsored dental van provided dental consultation for children ages 1 to 12. Maryland Physicians Care Van made nutritional healthy food, Amerigroup sponsored Moon Bounce for children, and Columbia Lite House Van did eye sight screenings. The health fair also provided massage therapy and yoga enthusiasts displayed their skills and love for healthy living. Besides yoga sessions on site, there were diabetes and cancer prevention education vendors, healthy living demos and advice booths.
Mental and behavioral health information, often a taboo topic, was sensitively offered by Counselors Helping South Asians/Indians (Chai). The Samar Group obtained bone marrow sign ups and the Washington Regional Transplant enrolled organ donor. Volunteers from a local Farm Market gave a wide range of fresh vegetables to all attendees. “The outstanding accomplishments of the day were made possible by the cohesive and dedicated collaboration of the Health Fair planning team, physicians, allied medical personnel, county and state health agencies, voluntary charitable organizations countless volunteers, Masjid management, and the Health Fair Advertising team as well as the support of the local organizations,” said Dr. Zafar Iqbal, President GOPIO DC Chapter.
This successful event was coordinated by Mayur Mody and the management of Islamic Center thanked him for providing excellent leadership with efficient and indefatigable energy. The logistics for medical team was coordinated by Dr. Surinder Singh Gill and Dr. Alif Manijwala, and Dr. Sukhpal headed the team of volunteers. The health fair was open to people of all different ethnic, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds and over 400 people were able to get medical consultation.