BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Photos by Vrunda Takalkar.
Cover photo: Sricharan Chowdhary Kantipudi, MD, MAG President Dr. Charles Wilmer, Dr. Lalitha Medepalli, President-Elect GAPI 23-24, Dr. Amol Takalkar, Convenor Atlanta GAPI regional, Dr. Vishal Sharma, Vice President GAPI 23-24
Atlanta, GA, December 14, 2023: As India emerges as a key player in global health, Indians and Indian Americans constitute the largest non-Caucasian segment of the American medical community in the United States, accounting for one in every 20 practicing doctors. In the state of Georgia alone, there are an estimated 5000 physicians, including MDs in training and residents. Before the advent of the technology sector in the US, the diaspora was widely recognized for its strong presence in the medical arena.
It is no surprise, then, that the Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage (GAPI) Atlanta was established back in 1987 by Indian physicians practicing in the state of Georgia as a forum for sharing information of common interest. GAPI strives to promote scientific, educational, civic, and professional activities and to act as a liaison between various professional organizations in the United States and India.
Well over one hundred and fifty physicians and a crowd of two hundred gathered at GAPI for its Regional Meeting on December 2, 2023, at Tadka Banquet Hall, Alpharetta, GA. The event, hosted by Dr. Lalitha Medepalli, MD, FACC, President-Elect GAPI 23-24, and by Amol M. Takalkar, MD, Convener, was a remarkable success, seamlessly blending education, networking, and entertainment.
Hon. L. Ramesh Babu, Consul General of India, Atlanta, presided as the guest of honor with Keynote speakers including State Representative Matt Reeves and Dr. Charles Wilmer, Medical Association of Georgia President 23-24. Johns Creek City Council member, Mr. Parmesh “Bob” Erramilli, was in attendance.
“With almost 1000 members, we share knowledge and engage in community charity work. GAPI is a hub for professional growth, supporting the GAPI free clinic and students with scholarships. As an organization, we build strong medical bonds, making a positive impact both in India and in the United States,” Dr. Lalitha Medepalli said. “The GAPI free clinic is available in Global Mall for people with no insurance and low income. Free primary care consultations are made available for families. Services provided at the venue include dentist consultations, minimal cost for lab work, discounted rates for medications and flu shots (in season), and referral to specialists at a discounted fee,” GAPI past president, Dr. Sreeni Gangasani said.
The evening commenced with a welcoming registration and a meet-and-greet session, fostering an environment for attendees to socialize. Dr. Nikhil Gangasani, President Medical Student Resident Fellow (MSRF) 23-24, and Anita Medepalli, Secretary MSRF, 23-24, led the MSRF abstracts session, featuring presentations by medical students, residents, and fellows, including Thangalakshmi Sivathapandi, Chief Nuclear Medicine Resident, PGY 3, Radiology Div. Nuclear Medicine Emory University; Vini Patel, Chief Resident, Northside Hospital, DO, MPH, PGY III Resident, Northside Hospital, represented by Reema Patel, Omama Rahmany; Anita Medepalli, MSRF, GAPI, Ambassador & Student Council Secretary, Mercer University School of Medicine; and Sheena Bhushan, PGY III Internal Medicine, Chair GI Research Interest Group, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville, GA. All four presenters showcased their research.
“As a past GAPI BOD member, I am very proud to be associated with GAPI. GAPI has made great contributions towards our Georgian community,” Dr. Anu Bhat, Rheumatologist, and philanthropist, said.
The event was enthusiastically emceed by Drs. Lalitha Medepalli and Amol Takalkar. Dr. Lalitha Medepalli, representing Dr. Raj Alappan, current GAPI president, delivered a heartfelt address. The Chief Guest, Hon. L. Ramesh Babu, Consul General of Atlanta, delivered an inspiring speech. Keynote speakers, State Representative Matt Reeves and Dr. Charles Wilmer, Medical Association of Georgia President 23-24, focused on crucial healthcare topics.
“Indian American doctors have played a pivotal role in shaping the healthcare landscape. Your commitment to the well-being of patients and your relentless pursuit of medical advancement have left an undeniable indelible mark on the healthcare system. The significant role you have played in medical research and innovation is also commendable,” Hon. L. Ramesh Babu, CGI, Atlanta, said in his address.
Rep. Reeves spoke about House Bill 383, or the Safer Hospitals Act, which would allow all Georgia hospitals to form hospital campus police departments with POST-certified law enforcement officers, similar to college campus police departments. Welcoming the announcement, Dr. Indran B. Indrakrishnan, past president of GAPI, said that this bill gives better protection to healthcare workers against violence at healthcare campuses.
Chaired by Dr. Saurabh Khakharia and hosted by Drs. Lakshmi GopiReddy and Neelima Kothari, the cultural events featured several captivating performances, including dance performances and songs from the East Cobb physicians group, Atlanta, and Cumming physicians group, and the dancing spirits of Atlanta men’s physicians. A stand-up comedy act by Dr. Indira Menon and soulful songs created an atmosphere of celebration and unity.
Dr. Vishal Sharma, Vice-president GAPI 23-24, delivered a vote of thanks. The event concluded with a delightful dinner and a DJ-fueled dance floor, allowing attendees to unwind and celebrate the success of the GAPI Atlanta Regional Meeting.
“It was a very well-planned and well-executed meeting. Guest speakers spoke well. Great entertainment and delicious food too! Congratulations to Dr. Lalitha and her team,” Dr. Subra Bhat said. Dr. Subrahmanya Bhat is a pulmonologist and internal medicine specialist and AAPI regional director said.
“The GAPI Regional Meeting on December 2nd, 2023, accomplished its objectives of education, networking, and celebration. The commitment of the organizing committee, the support of sponsors, and the enthusiastic participation of over 150 physicians made this event a memorable experience. We eagerly anticipate future GAPI gatherings that will further foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing within the medical community,” Dr. Medepalli said.