My utmost desire was to go to 3rd world countries and offer my services to the needy and underprivileged after my retirement.
Unfortunately due to other obligations and commitments to family life I could not accomplish my plan, But I had opportunities here in my own backyard in Suburban Boston that would be rewarding.
I was lucky to fulfill my desire and dreams by giving back in a few different ways.
My Volunteer activities on giving back and sharing through the Metro West Medical Clinic, in Sudbury Massachusetts, service on the Mass Medical Society committee on Senior Volunteer Physicians for 9 years and as an advisor on MMS committee on Senior Volunteers, currently for a 2 year term.
Metro West Free Medical Program
In 2010 I was planning to retire sometime in the future and from there do some volunteer work.
I was lucky one of my dear friends at the Leonard Morse Hospital, a pulmonologist, Dr. Sabin introduced me to Metro West Free Medical Program in Sudbury, an affluent Boston suburb ten miles from my house. He invited me to visit this clinic. It was open every Tuesday evening rain or shine in a Jewish temple, a temple by day and transformed to an out patient clinic in the evening.
I shadowed him that Tuesday evening and was shocked to see what was transpiring so close to where I lived. This was an eye opener. I instantly decided to join this place and participate in offering my services even before my retirement. MWFMP opened in November 2004 and over the years more and more patients continue to be treated. There are 40 doctors and nurse practitioners who work at the clinic. Kim Prendergast has been the Administrator for a long time and I admire all the work she has done, with an average of over 30 patients seen each evening.
The staff includes primary care doctors and specialists, nurses, interpreters, receptionists, social workers, medical students, and physical therapists all working as a close team, like a family.
Patient Population: 80 percent of the population is Brazilian and the rest Spanish speaking.
There were both walk-ins and appointments. All patients received medical care. No questions were even asked regarding religion, gender or politics. They were provided medical care as needed. I was surprised in 2010 that there was a vast number of professionals who had lost their jobs and had no insurance, thus delaying medical care. One young patient, a professional having no insurance, did not seek medical care and ended up having advanced colon cancer that could have been treated in time and been curable. There must be many more cases that I am unaware of.
This clinic was a blessing for many human beings. It fulfilled a variety of needs for the uninsured and under insured. Children received school physicals, as parents could not afford pediatrician fees. Many patients came for physicals as required for their job application. Patients came for prescription refills as they had no primary care doctor. Many came for major and minor problems as they were afraid to go to the Emergency room due to their immigration status.
Patients received assistance with obtaining insurance. Diagnostic referrals were arranged for X-rays, lab work, mammograms and more complex work up at MWM Center, with followed ups.
EKG’s were done at the clinic and read; blood cholesterol and blood sugar were done as required and results given instantly, faster than any urgent care clinics.
Preventive care was offered for Diabetes and Nutrition.
Flu shots were given on walk in basis and patients were encouraged to spread the word.
Discharge criteria with clear instructions were given to patients for follow up appointments.
The Brazilian community with their church connections and popular use of WhatsApp, spread the word about this wonderful God given clinic near and far, from the Metro West area.
One interesting case stands out. A patient came for a refill of his prescription pills. My colleague prescribed the medication and needed to fill in his address. To her surprise he came from Everett, a distance of 30 to 40 miles from Sudbury. By his connection with the community, he had recently arrived from brazil 2 weeks prior and was working in a kitchen in Everett and had planned to return to Brazil after 6 months. His prescription was given with no further questions, which was surely a surprise and not your average patient.
Due to Covid, I took a sabbatical at the clinic in March 2019. Also changing times MWMC in May 2021 under went reorganizational changes administrative wise and the temple site is closed due to Covid. Once all is settled I hope to continue my Volunteer Work at the clinics.
I have enjoyed working with this marvelous and giving team.
My service on the Mass Medical Society committee on Senior Volunteer Physicians for 9 years and as an advisor on MMS committee on Senior Volunteers, currently for a 2 year term.
I have been attending the virtual meetings and enjoying my Senior Volunteer Meetings via Zoom, but look forward to in person someday. I could always do more giving back and sharing as opportunities arise. I appreciate that life has been kind to me and I have been at the receiving end with my blessings. I count them every day. I wish and hope to do more as my way of appreciation and Thanksgiving.
On May 6, 2021 I received this letter:
Dear Dr. Bhatia,
On behalf of your colleagues at the Massachusetts Medical Society, please accept my most sincere thanks for your nine years of service on the MMS Committee on Senior Volunteer Physicians.
I know that your contributions to the committee have been invaluable, and I greatly appreciate the generous time and effort that you have given to the Society through the years.
On a personal note, let me thank you for helping to make my year as President of the Massachusetts Medical Society a rewarding and successful one.
David A. Rosman, MD, MBA
And in April I received this letter:
April 26, 2021
Dear Dr. Bhatia,
It is my honor to invite you to serve as an advisor on the MMS Committee on Senior Volunteer Physicians. Your appointment will be presented for approval at the Annual Meeting of the House of Delegates on April 26, 2021.
The success of the Society is a function of the effort put forward by all of its members. We appreciate your willingness to serve and your commitment to the tasks assigned to the committee by the Officers, the BOT, and the HOD. Actively serving on the committee and contributing to its work helps us move forward in accomplishing the goals of the MMS.
Information about the committee and meeting dates will be provided by the staff liaison. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact Karen Harrison in the Executive Governance department.
I look forward to working with you and to your valuable contributions to the work of the committee.
Carole E. Allen, MD, MBA, FAAP
Massachusetts Medical Society