Dr. Jacob Eapen of Fremont, California, was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award by his Alma Mater, Trivandrum Medical College in Kerala at a solemn ceremony on February 16th, 2019. Dr. Eapen, born and raised in Trivandrum, Kerala, in southern India, said, “This award takes you back to your heritage.”
A Pediatrician by profession, this compassionate and gentle soul spends countless hours through the years doing community services. When he hasn’t been serving on various Boards in or near Fremont, his home since the mid-1980s, he has provided medical assistance nationwide and overseas. In all, Dr. Eapen has spent nearly four decades, giving back to a world too often in need.
Dr. Eapen earned his M.D. at the University of Kerala Medical College and his Master’s in Public Health from UC Berkeley. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.
Dr. Eapen completed his Medical Degree from Trivandrum Medical College in India in 1976 and Pediatric training at Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, India.
The native of Kerala, did not limit his talents and skills to benefit himself and family alone. His mission to bring health to all, and particularly on preventive medicine took him to several continents, serving the poor, the needy, the weak and the sick.
Eapen says, “At 15, when I started my pre-medicine education, it wasn’t because of any passion for medicine but more due to the influences by my parents. My father was an engineer with the Kerala government services. We had many doctors in the family even going back two generations. Once I obtained my medical training, I practiced pediatrics in both Tanzania and Nigeria and that gave me a different perspective in health care.”
Dr. Eapen left his kith and kin, the security and familiarity of the country that he was born and brought up and reached the shores of Africa, where he worked as the Director of Pediatric Unit in Agha Khan Hospital in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania in 1980. In pursuit of his passion for reaching out to many more, he accepted an offer to teach in Sub-Sahara, Nigeria in Africa without neglecting to practice for the undernourished children and their parents. While he was working at the Nigerian hospital, Dr. Eapen saw hundreds of children die from diseases brought on by malnutrition. Since then, he has dedicated his career to pediatric services for the underprivileged. He also mastered two native languages– Swahili and Hausa.
In 1988 Dr. Eapen was appointed Health Advisor by the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (IJNHCR) to the Republic of the Philippines. He accepted this new challenge to cater to the needs of nearly 30,000 Indo-Chinese refugees in the Philippines Refugee Processing Center, Battan.
Dr. Eapen had to reinvent himself in this new world meeting new challenges and coping with stress of work. He endeared himself to the refugees, created meaningful relationships with the staff and addressed himself to learning more and more. With his expertise and long standing experience, Dr. Eapen crafted a health proposal for the underserved Filipino indigent population that lived around camp at Morong, Battan.
Herman T. Laurel, Adminstrator at the Refugee Processing Center wrote: “No other Medical advisor before him has figured as positively in Health Services group affairs, nor shown as much commitment to its mission, for which he has earned our respect and high esteem.” Sylvia Bitler, the nursing coordinator of World Relief Council (WRC) paid him tribute as he was leaving the Philippines in the following words, “This brilliant and compassionate man literally hides a world of expertise behind his unassuming manner. Our loss is certainly the gain of his next associates.”
In 1990 Dr. Eapen was appointed Director for Research and Public Health Programs at International Health Services, Mountain View, California. The objective of this not-for- profit organization was the development of appropriate but low-cost diagnostic kits for use in developing countries.
Dr. Eapen also conducted a USAID-supported clinical trial in India on a simple device to test for tuberculosis. While serving as the Director of International Affairs for Stop Aids Worldwide (SAW), Dr. Eapen met Mother Theresa at Calcutta, India, to promote the work of this organization in India.
Since 2012, he has been serving as the Medical Director of Alameda Health System (AHS), Oakland, CA. Alameda Health Systems is one of the largest public health systems in the state of California. It acts a safety net for the residents of Alameda County (1.5 million people). Employed as a pediatrician with AHS for 25 years and currently also serves as the medical director of the Ambulatory of the AHS.
Dr. Jacob Eapen was at the helm of the Newark Wellness Center as medical director. Since 2004, he has served on the board of directors of Washington Hospital in Fremont, where there are as many as 600 Doctors serving tens of thousands of patients daily. The Hospital has been ranked among the top 100 best hospitals in the country.
The Indian American physician has also served two terms on the State Association of California Health Care Districts Board, and on the board of directors of KIDANGO, a private nonprofit agency providing child development programs in Alameda, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties.
Dr. Eapen has also brought his expertise in the health problems of children in developing countries to the doorsteps of many centers of learning. He has lectured on Primary Health care and Health Issues in a Refugee Camp, to students at Stanford and UCSF Medical schools as well as at the School of Public Health at Berkeley. Good medical practice comes in myriad forms, but good doctors share one trait: they are truly present in their clinics, deeply engaged with their patients and their area of specialization.
During his long career, Dr. Eapen has received several honors and has served in numerous leadership roles across the world. That seemingly endless work has earned him national and global recognition. Dr. Eapen’s commitment to the healing ministry and his compassion for the poor, and his ability to touch individuals through his personal and professional achievements, has earned him numerous awards.
Dr. Eapen was given the 2017 Sainik School (Kerala, India) Lifetime Achievement Award. He was honored by the Federation of Malayalee Associations of Americas 2010 Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding Achievements and Contributions in the Field of Medicine and Public Health. He received the FIJIAID International Award in May, 2010.
He is a 2007 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, a prestigious honor given annually by the New York-based National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. The medal celebrates the immigrant experience and seeks to honor Americans from a wide variety of backgrounds for their positive and lasting imprint on our society.
Dr. Eapen stated, “The US is a melting pot of immigrants where, everyday people strive to achieve the American Dream. I have attained many reputed recognitions here, and then to be recognized by my adopted country as one of the outstanding citizens who have made positive contributions to the community is a very humbling experience and this, at the same time, makes me proud of my roots.”
In 2004, Jacob Eapen was awarded the First Physician Recognition Award from the Medical Board of California. The California Medical Board, which licenses physicians throughout the state, created a Physician Recognition Task Force to begin an annual program to recognize physicians for outstanding service. He is also a recipient of the Congressional Record of Honor and the City of Newark Mayoral Commendation.
Dr. Eapen was honored by Stanford Medical School, and was selected as one of the 40 outstanding Stanford Medical Alumni from among 7,000 graduates of the last 60 years, and was profiled in a book commemorating 40 years of the Stanford Medical School in Palo Alto.
In 1999, Dr. Eapen was recognized as the Spectacular Care Giver of 1999, “in recognition of your outstanding patient service, consistently superior level of performance and reliable contributions to the team at NewarkJ-Health Center,” Alameda County Health Services. In 2001, he was bestowed with the Global Awards & Golden Honor from Kerala Kala Kendram, associated to Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy (Fine Arts Council of Kerala.)
Dr. Eapen is the first Indian American to win 5 public general elections in America. He serves as the board of director of a large community hospital in California. He also served in the advisory board of school of public health University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Eapen was elected to the California State Hospital Association, and Association of California Health Care Districts, and was appointed to the board of directors of KIDANGO, a private, nonprofit agency providing child development program in Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Francisco Counties in Northern California. He is the recipient of the first physician award from the Medical Board of California.
In 2007, he was bestowed with the Mother Theresa award – Humanitarian of the year, by the Friends of the South Asian American Communities (FOSAAC).
He was recognized as the Spectacular Care Giver of 1999 “in recognition of your outstanding patient service, consistently superior level of performance and reliable contributions to the team at Newark Health Center” by the Alameda County Health Services
Currently, Dr. Eapen serves as Pediatrician for Alameda County Health Services where he reaches out to the poor children in Oakland and Newark, and the juveniles in their retention center in San Leandro. California is fortunate to have the services of Dr. Eapen, taking into account the numerous uninsured and indigent people that populate the area.
Good medical practice comes in myriad forms, but good doctors share one trait: they are truly present in their clinics, deeply engaged with their patients and their area of specialization. Dr. Eapen says, “I have embraced Public Health Services in an explicit and deliberate attempt to foster more appropriate and effective policies, and practices, to benefit the community especially the disadvantaged and underserved population.”
Dr. Jacob Eapen, who serves as a Treasurer and Director of Washington Township Health Care District, where has worked nearly two decades, says, most of the center’s patients are lower income and transitory, so it’s important to have as many services as possible at one facility. He noted half of the pediatrics services done at the center are sick child care, but the other half is “well child care.”
Dr. Eapen has been the commissioner of public health in Alameda County, California, for more than four years. Currently, he serves as Pediatrician for Alameda County Health Services where he reaches out to poor children in Oakland and Newark, and the juveniles in their detention center in San Leandro. California is fortunate to have the services of Dr. Eapen, taking into account the numerous uninsured and indigent people that populate the area.
He served as an adviser to “Every Child Counts” Commission, Alameda County. He is an important speaker against the potential closure of clinics in Alameda County, because of costs. He was awarded the Spectacular Care Giver of 1999 by the Alameda County Health Services “in recognition of (his) outstanding patient service, consistently superior level of performance and reliable contributions to the team at Newark Health Center.”
Dr. Eapen is currently serving as a board member of Washington Hospital in Fremont, California. He was one of the first Indo Americans ever to win a general election in Northern California. He is also a member of several California State boards: The Association of California Health Care Districts (ACHD) (representing about 44 district hospitals in California Governance Forum), The California Hospital Association (CHA) (representing more than 500 hospitals in California) and The Advisory Board of California Medical Association (CMA) Foundation.
He is dedicated to improving access, removing both logistic and insurance barriers, expanding outreach services and reducing Emergency Room waiting time. Dr. Eapen is also pressing for better investment in preventive care through cost effective health programs. For him, minimizing disparities in community health care is an important priority.
As a member of the board he envisions minimizing the disparities in immunization rates, incidence in obesity, diabetes and hypertension as well as increasing open communication and enhancing the image of the hospital as a patient friendly place. In addition to Dr. Jacob’s outstanding performance, he is thankful for the support of his family. Tremendous appreciation goes to his family’s understanding for his numerous commitments to his objectives and social engagements.
Acknowledging self as “a leader, educator and practitioner in Public Health in Alameda County,” Dr. Eapen says, he is deeply aware of the community health needs. “With my national and international experience in the field of medicine and technology,” Dr. Eapen is committed to continuing his life-long mission to usher in a new sensitivity to the medical needs of the diverse population in his community and around the world, where his expertise and skills are needed.
Dr. Eapen has devoted his medical expertise to the health problems of undernourished children in developing countries and to poor and disturbed juveniles in the United States. Time and again, he has demonstrated his commitment to the healing ministry and to improving public health for the underserved worldwide. In the words of Hon. Fortney Pete Stark, “he has embraced Public Health Services in an explicit attempt to foster more appropriate and effective policies to benefit poor, undeserved patients”
The awards, honors and recognitions, take Eapen back to experiences that may fuel his charitable view on life: the five years he spent in sub-Saharan Africa as a teacher and physician. Eapen recalled some days in Africa where he would arrive at the medical clinic at 8 a.m. to find 150 people already waiting in line for medical help, including some who had walked for hours. Dr. Eapen says, “You experience that and you value life more. You realize that life is so fragile.”
This brilliant and compassionate physician literally hides a world of expertise behind his unassuming manner. Mrs. Annamma Eapen, his 95-years-old mother, lives in Trivandrum. Dr. Eapen is married to Shirley Jacob, who works for Amgen, a biotech company. They have two grown children, Dr. Naveen and Dr. Sandhya. Dr. Naveen is married to Dr. Stephnie, and the couple are blessed with a 3 months old son, Issac. Dr. Sandhya is married to Dr. Ryan. To quote Dr. Jacob Eapen: “The world needs to advance in compassion.”