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M. P. Ravindra Nathan

Albert Einstein, the best-known international graduate, observed in 1933 when he migrated to Princeton from Germany, “America, despite its inequalities of wealth and racial problems, is more of a meritocracy than Europe.” Or any other part of the world, for that matter.

That essentially sums up the success of the Indian American community, especially the physicians. It was quite evident during the recent Silver Jubilee Convention of AAPI (Association of American Physicians of Indian origin) at the Marriott Hotel in Philadelphia downtown. I attended all the five days and enjoyed every bit of it.

Clearly, Indian physicians have come a long way in the American health scene.

It was in 1982 that a few visionaries under the leadership of the late Dr. Ujamlal Kothari created a forum for doctors who have steadily migrated to USA since the late 1950s. They felt this will enable them to excel in patient care, teaching and research and thus fulfilling their aspirations and ambitions. With enhanced clout, they hoped to be able to help in administration, management and politics of health care delivery.

Now, fast forward to 2007. That special milestone for AAPI has arrived – A Silver Jubilee! This was indeed a celebration for the history books. We knew there would be plenty of people to say “Happy Birth Day to AAPI,” so my wife and I booked our tickets at the early bird special rate and were there on Wednesday itself to imbibe the atmosphere and participate from the beginning. Indeed, it was a memorable event with attendance topping almost 3,000.

The program had all the elements necessary for success: an informative CME with many of the national leaders such as Navin Nanda, Thakur Patel and Enas Enas discussing the cutting-edge treatment of diseases affecting Indian Americans, a stimulating Women’s Forum, enchanting musical evenings with Sonu Nigam, Kunal Gunjanwala and Bankim Pathak, activities of medical students and residents - the future of AAPI, delectable Indian cuisine ( apparently four chefs were flown in – from Mumbai, London and Arizona) and an elaborate exhibition with 169 booths showcasing pharmaceutical and business products. Of the many awards given, one went to this writer as well, for excellence in editing AAPI Journal for the past many years.

Each session was chock full of information often laced with humor and illustrated with true life stories, especially the ‘Women’s Forum.’ The program was a sellout with the audience spilling out into the corridor and some even sitting on the floor. The featured speakers included Kalpalatha Guntupalli, the only woman president of AAPI, Suneeta Reddy, executive director of Finance, Apollo Hospital group based in Chennai, and Seema Singh, a Democratic candidate making a bid for New Jersey Senate. Guntupalli emphasized the role of women in society. The number of Indian women physicians is steadily increasing and many are in leadership positions. And her cautious parting words to all working women were, “Behind every successful woman, there is a hungry husband waiting for his supper.” A thunderous applause followed.

The last decade has brought many challenges and the entire health care in America is going through an extreme makeover. Following the proliferation of managed care companies with their economic power, doctors feel they are losing control over working conditions, treatments and incomes. “Feeling devalued by change, doctors seek union banner,” wrote Peter T. Kilborn in The New York Times recently. Fortunately, the situation is not as bad for International Medical Graduates in USA compared to non – EU (European Union) doctors in U. K (well, mainly South Asian doctors). AAPI, with its power of a large dedicated group backing it, can play a vital role in the forthcoming days in modernizing health care delivery in America. And may be in India too.

To be continued.

Cardiologist Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan, director of Hernando Heart Clinic in Brooksville and editor-in-chief of the AAPI Journal, lives in Brooksville.

Payal Patel

Summer is here, and the hot weather draws everyone to the pool. As we know, children love water and when it comes to swimming pools safety guidelines needs to be discussed.

Living in Florida has its pros and cons. Many homes have a swimming pool and therefore instilling swimming pool safety is the key. Florida is one of the leading states in pool drowning. Each year, about 300 children under 5 years of age drown in swimming pools, but the number grows to more than 2,000 children under 5 years of age who become near-drowning victims.

Seventy-five percent of children in swimming-pool submersion accidents were between the ages of 1 and 3 years old, and most of them were boys.

Toddlers are a special concern and because they move so fast and get into everything, a pool drowning can occur anytime. Most kids this age don’t scream for help and can drown silently. Most victims of near-drowning accidents drown silently in less than five minutes of when the child was last seen.


1. Always have a pool fence in place that is at least 4 feet high, and completely separates the pool from the home and the play area. A good fence should prevent a child from getting over, under or through the barrier. Have self-closing gate latches that are out of reach for children. (Remember, a pool fence is the law in Florida for all homes)

2. It may be wise to have a pool alarm – a door alarm if the pool gate is opened. Wrist- alarm bands make noise when a child gets wet. A pool alarm also is good, which is activated if anything more than 10 pounds falls into the pool.

3. Discuss basic pool safety rules with children before entering the pool.

4. Never leave children alone or out of eye contact when he or she is in or near a pool.

5. Always have an adult supervising the pool (who knows how to swim).

6. Remove toys, floats, balls from the swimming pool, which may attract children to the pool when they are not supposed to be in it.

7. If you own a pool, learn CPR in order to resuscitate a drowning child.

8. Always use an approved flotation device to keep child afloat, but don’t let this let your guard up.

9. Prohibit any kind of diving or rough play in and around pools.

10. Teach kids how to swim as early as possible (good age is around 3 years of age), but they are not drown-proof. Therefore, close supervision is still necessary.

11. Precautions should be taken for children with seizure disorder who can seize and drown in the pool.


* First and foremost, don’t panic.

* If you see a child drowning, send someone to call 911.

* If a child is in shallow water, turn him or her face up and face out of water.

* If the child is in deep water, get a flotation device before going to him/her.

* Look for signs of breathing (If not breathing, start rescue breathing, which is mouth-to-mouth breathing) while child is in the water.

* Check the pulse. If no pulse, start CPR once child is removed from the pool.

Finally, I hope these guidelines will help parents take charge of swimming pool safety guidelines, to protect children from pool accidents and drowning.

Happy Fourth of July to all.

Payal Patel, a board-certified pediatrician, has recently started her own practice – Sunshine Pediatrics, 18928 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Suite 102, Lutz, FL 33548. She also can be reached at (813) 948-2679.

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