Local doctor receives national award

Local doctor receives national award

A local general surgeon and his family foundation have been recognized as the 2013 Outstanding Medical Reserve Corps Partner Organization after Dr. Gaurang Pandya, and the Pandya Family Foundation were selected for the honor.

Pandya was also recognized Tuesday morning during the regular scheduled meeting of Tulare County Board of Supervisors.

The award honors organizations that support MRC units in carrying out missions and providing opportunities to participate in public health preparedness and response activities.

"Dr. Gaurang Pandya, the immediate past president of the Tulare Medical Society, and his Pandya Family Foundation, [have] been an integral part of building the Tulare Medical Reserve Corps," said Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County public health officer. "Dr. Pandya has shown outstanding leadership and work ethic as he has led the recruitment of physicians, training in emergency preparedness, hospital and community outreach efforts, and the development of mass vaccination exercises and information campaigns for faith-based community service organizations."

Haught said the organization was grateful for residents like him in Tulare County. Pandya and his foundation, which he and his wife created in 2007 to promote access to health care by education and development of careers, have been working with Tulare Medical Reserve Corps since October 2011.

Pandya personally led the recruitment of physicians at Sierra View District Hospital, where six other doctors and the medical staff coordinator joined TMRC, receiving extensive training in emergency preparedness, TMRC reported. In addition, he contacted more than 30 community and faith-based organizations to inform them about Tulare MRC and helped develop a mass vaccination training exercise for the Porterville SIKH Temple, where 39 people received seasonal flu shots. The exercise utilized the Incident Command System taught by the TMRC Coordinator.

Pandya also led the Emergency Preparedness information campaign at Holy Cross Catholic Church, where more than 300 parishioners participated in an all-day Sunday event.

He continues to promote TMRC to schools and other faith-based community service organizations in the greater Porterville area. His foundation also gave a substantial financial gift to TMRC when it helped fund an educational presentation to health care professionals in Visalia on the National Institute of Health publication "Crisis Standards of Care."

Haught praised Pandya as a tireless supporter of TMRC and as a person highly regarded by his colleagues as a leader in emergency preparedness for physicians.

"Although we feel honored for the recognition much work needs to be done," Pandya said earlier in the week.

Pandya credited the collaborative leadership of the community, including the TMRC and its leadership, Steve Chambers, Tulare County Medical Society, Dr. Ashok Behl and the Sikh Temple of Porterville, Sierra View District Hospital's administration and medical staff leadership, including Dr. Jasvir Sidhu, CEO Donna Hefner and the hospital board, Monsignor Scott Daugherty and the St. Anne's parish, city manager John Lollis, Porterville Fire and Police Department Capt. Glenn Irish, community advocate Felipe Martinez, and others for the success.

Pandya said Porterville Unified School District superintendent John Snavely is also interested in TMRC, which can provide leadership training opportunities to students at Granite Hills High School's Law and Justice Academy and Porterville High's Health Academy.

The TMRC, a young volunteer organization housed in Tulare County Health and Human Services Department, initially formed with a grant from the Center of Disease Control, has a mission to recruit, organize, train, deploy and retrain volunteer medical and health professionals, and other non-medical residents who willingly contribute time, skills and expertise to prepare for, and respond to, threats of terrorism, public health emergencies and other community health needs.

To date there are 126 TMRC members, Haught said, and though there is no one community with a majority of members, Porterville does have the most active group of members who have also received some of the required training to become ready for deployment to a disaster.

In all, there were 71 nominations across the country for the honors. Dr. Pandya's work was among 18 that were recognized. There were no others from California. In addition, two photographs were also recognized as MRC Picture of the Year. The national award winners were announced May 7 by the Division of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps, which recognizes members of the MRC national network on an annual basis.

The recipients of the award include MRC volunteers, leaders, housing and partner organizations, and other key stakeholders who have helped build and sustain the MRC program. The awards recognize those who have done outstanding work and contributed to the mission of the MRC in 2013.

The recipients received recognition during the Late Spring Seasonal Leadership and Training Summit on June 6 at The National Conference Center, in Leesburg, Va.

Visit www.medicalreservecorps.gov/pageViewFldr/2013RecognitionAwards#top to view full recipient list.

Author: Esther Avila


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