IAPC Confers Lifetime Achievement Award On Karma Shreshta, Dr. Vinod K. Shah By Ajay Ghosh

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Dr. Vinod K Shah, an Eminent Cardiologist, Managing Director of MedStar Shah Medical Group, CEO of Health Prime, and former President of AAPI, was presented with the prestigious Life Time Achievement Award or the “Karma Shreshta Award” during a solemn virtual awards ceremony organized by Indo-American Club (IAPC) during the 7th annual International Media Conference on October 18th, 2020.

Dr. Vinod Shah has spent the past half a century, serving the larger US population, contributing to the Indo-US relations, towards education, transforming healthcare delivery and investing in the growth of the community. His hard work and commitment to noble causes led to the United States House Majority Leader and twenty-term Congressman Steny Hoyer calling Dr. Shah “one of the most decent, honorable and honest men that I have ever met.” 

Apart from being a well-known Cardiologist in Southern Maryland and Washington, D.C., Dr. Shah has worked very closely with many community organizations serving as a member of the Rotary Club of Charlotte Hall and board member of St. Mary’s College. As the President of AAPI, he has worked closely and relentlessly with the members of the US Congress to develop and promote Indo-US relations and fight for the rights of foreign medical graduates. An advocate for physicians, his ultimate passion has been to provide the best healthcare for patients with an emphasis on the early detection and prevention of diseases.

A true visionary and reputed for his excellence in healthcare, education, leadership and social services, Dr. Shah received his medical degree from Bombay University, completed his cardiology training at Georgetown University Hospital. Dr. Shah moved to rural Southern Maryland 45 years ago with his wife, Dr. Ila Shah, a Pediatrician and his brother, Dr. U.K. Shah, a Gastroenterologist, and together they founded Shah Associates, the largest private multi-specialty practice in Maryland.

Born in 1941 in Ranpur in Gujarat, India, as the eldest of nine siblings in a middle class family, Dr. Shah obtained his medical degree from Bombay University and moved to the United States in 1967. He completed prestigious fellowships in cardiology at the Georgetown University Program at the VA Hospital. He then chose to settle in a small community that was woefully underserved by the healthcare system: as one indicator, the local residents had access to a cardiologist for just four hours a month.  

When Dr. Shah arrived to his current home in 1974, the local hospital in rural Southern Maryland did not have one full-time specialist physician dedicated to the residents who lived there. Today, top quality physicians are available to serve the once-underserved population of the County. At 78, Dr. Shah continues to work tirelessly to improve the health and quality of life of the nearly 70% of St. Mary’s County 110,000 residents whose lives he has touched. He sees patients and administers multiple private and public healthcare-related organizations to improve healthcare access to all of Southern Maryland. 

Dr. Shah has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to both his adopted country and his country of birth. Since 1981, he has been involved with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), a professional group with more than 80,000 physicians and 200 chapters which supports practitioners and highlights the distinctive contributions of Indian culture to American medicine. Dr. Shah served as the Legislative Chair, advocating for policies beneficial to both the state of healthcare in the US and to physicians trained in India. 

Dr. Shah has consistently used his personal connections with US Lawmakers to advocate for an increase in the number of medical schools and residencies, with the dual goal of improving access to care nationwide and allowing more qualified and deserving graduates, such as those from India, to practice in the US. As the President of AAPI, Dr. Shah facilitated trips to India with both Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and a number of Members of Congress, including the current House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer. In addition to general cultural exchange, Dr. Shah helped bring about the creation of a sister state relationship between Maryland and Maharashtra, with the purpose of encouraging research and investment in life-saving medical technology.  

Dr. Shah has been highly involved in both domestic and international aid work, working to establish thirty clinics in the US and seventeen clinics in India to provide primary care for those who cannot afford it. He and his wife, Ila, are active members of Rotary International, through which they have run a dozen outreach missions, providing artificial limbs and surgery for victims of polio. Dr. Shah coordinated a Women’s Wellness project in Kutch from 2012 to 2014, which provided thousands of screenings and hundreds of surgeries. He also organized a Global Health Care Summit in New Delhi in 2009, where representatives of numerous nations shared perspectives on a variety of healthcare initiatives, working together, for example, to support the Indian Ministry of Health in its systematic efforts to combat tuberculosis. 

Educated decades ago, Dr. Shah is well-versed in the use of modern technology.  “Access to healthcare is a significant problem in the US,” Dr. Sha says, “Utilizing technology, and creating a center of excellence that focuses on data driven processes and procedures has helped to save many lives. I have provided exceptional healthcare to an underserved population. I have created thousands of jobs, and improved the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of people. “I have created an outsourced service line that impacts both people in the US as well as in India,” Dr. Sha says.

Towards Indo-US Relations, Dr. Shah says, “I have been instrumental in working with US Lawmakers to bridge relations with India. Having lived in Washington, DC. Region for the last 50 years, I am well acquainted with the need to educate and lobby US lawmakers regarding India. I serve as a liaison to bring an extraordinary relationship between Indian and the United States.”

Philanthropic Giving to both US and Indian educational and medical facilities has been a passion for Dr. Sha and his family.  “Through a private foundation my wife and I supported qualified medical students from underserved areas in India,” Dr. Shah says. “Today 60+ students have graduated and are practicing in their medical fields. To help accommodate students, our company’s charitable arm supports the construction of dormitories to house students near Vidyanagar. In addition, through the work of Rotary International, we have raised over a million dollars for multiple matching grant projects in India including polio corrective surgery, cataract surgery, women’s health, and clean water.” 

 With the help of the physicians among his extended family, Dr. Shah has profoundly enhanced access to medical care for the people of the State of Maryland across the socio-economic spectrum. Dr. Shah used his resources to create a number of state of the art multi-specialty facilities which provide integrated care to thousands of patients. He runs an annual Health and Wellness Fair providing free comprehensive care to indigent patients. Dr. Shah also founded Health Prime International, a company which provides back-office and recordkeeping services to physicians. Not only does the company ease the administrative burden on its physician clients, but it also has created more than 600 jobs in India, and its advanced data analytics allow doctors to better understand their patients’ needs and provide better preventative care. 

As the AAPI President, Dr. Shah traveled throughout the country to raise awareness about serving the needs of the US population especially in underserved areas. “My work has led to the creation of jobs, the creation of government policies and procedures to support healthcare, and has assisted Indian medical graduates to obtain medical residency in the US. I have helped to create a competent workforce in medicine that will continue to benefit our patients is thankfully my legacy.” 

As the Legislative Chair and AAPI President, “I often visited both Capitol Hill and The Indian Embassy, to promote Indo-US relationship as a goodwill ambassador. I have traveled with US Lawmakers across the US and beyond to introduce them to Indian society, and the strength of Indian Culture. I am confident that my contributions to further the relations between these two nations will lead to a greater understanding of each other and a more united front in the world.”

His literary skills came to be recognized around the world, when he penned the publication of “Antarnaad – Introspection,” created with images of India’s past, present and future with the purpose of educating younger generations in both India and the US as well as US lawmakers as to the strength of democracy. The accompanying documentary film he had produced describes the compelling story of The Golden Era, Islamic Invasion and British India, and was followed by Freedom Movement, Partition, and the Post-Independence India with emphasis on human weakness, corruption, license Raj, and the revolt by the people leading to the Promised Land.
  
Awards and recognitions came his way as people around the nation recognized his commitment to the lager good of the nation. Hon. Martin O’Malley, Governor of Maryland, appointed Dr. Shah as a member of the Maryland Quality and Safety Commission in Healthcare in 2008.  He was award the Outstanding Physician of the Year 2010 by The Council of Rural Maryland for developing health care infrastructure in a physician deprived area. He received the Lifetime Achievement Aware 2015 for Excellence in Healthcare St Mary’s Hospital.
 

Dr. Shah was recognized by Hon. Steny Hoyer, US House Majority Leader, for outstanding contributions to community in 2007.  He was accorded the prestigious Presidential Award, American Association of Physician of Indian Origin in 2019. In 2008, Dr. Shah was given the Paul Harris Fellow Award by the Rotary International, and the Service above Self Award by the Rotary International in 2000. Dr. Shah was given the Presidential Award for Outstanding Humanitarian Service by AAPI at the Global Health Summit, Mumbai, India 2019.   

In short, Dr. Vinod K. Shah has shown a boundless dedication to professional, diplomatic, and charitable service both in the United States and in India. He has improved the lives of thousands of physicians and patients, and facilitated momentous policy decisions on the local, national, and international levels. His contributions to the larger society are immense and are an inspiration for generations to be inspired and to emulate.

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