AAPI Organizes National Tele-Conference on COVID-19

AAPI Organizes National Tele-Conference on COVID-19 in Collaboration with Indian Embassy, National Council of Asian Indian Americans

Thousands of new coronavirus cases are being identified across the United States each day, including in large clusters in the New York City area, along the Gulf Coast and in the Pacific Northwest. As of this weekend, at least 135,000 people across every state, plus Washington, D.C., and three U.S. territories, have tested positive for the virus, according to a New York Times database, and nearly 2,500 patients with the virus have died.”
“While COVID-19 continues to disrupt life around the globe, AAPI is committed to helping its tens of thousands of members across the US and others across the globe,” said Dr. Suresh Reddy, President of AAPI. “As concerned physicians witnessing the growing COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on our society, healthcare system and economy, we, members of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic Medical Association in the United States, has embarked on several initiatives. The most effective so far has been offering twice a week conference calls having been attended by over 2,000 physicians from across the United States.” Dr. Reddy welcomed the hundreds of participants to the live session and provided the guidelines for the smooth conduct of the session.

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Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Vice president of AAPI, is an anesthesiology specialist in San Antonio, TX and has been practicing for 14 years, said, “Since the outbreak of this deadly pandemic, AAPI under the leadership of Dr. Suresh Reddy, AAPI has had several meetings with leaders of AAPI, representing nearly 100,000 Physicians of Indian Origin in the United States, serving every seventh patient across the United States.”

The teleconference on Friday, March 27, 2020 was unique as it was jointly organized by AAPI, Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, and National Council of Asian Indian Americans (NCAIA).
Anurag Kumar, Minister of Community Affairs, while praising the numerous efforts of AAPI, especially in this season of pandemic affecting the world, enumerated the many efforts of the Embassy to help Indians, and with particular focus on the nearly 200,000 Indian students in the US. “We are coordinating with the community and hotels owned by AAHOA members n arranging accommodation for students. AAPI’s taking the lead and we are proud of their contributions,” he said. “Everyone is advised not to travel abroad and back to India, stay where you are until things get better,” he advised the Daspora.
Dr. Bharat Barai highlighted the need for the people need to recognize that it’s an aggressive type of virus and everyone needs to take appropriate precaution. Even if symptoms are negative, one is likely they carry symptoms.
The Teleconference was moderated by Dr. Lokesh Edara, who lauded AAPI’s efforts in providing such a forum to join in and share their expertise with their Fellow Physicians and thus provide the best care practice to their patients, especially in this season of fast spreading Covid-19 global pandemic. He said, this is the 5th such conference call where NRI physicians share their knowledge and wisdom with people in the healthcare sector.
The Indian Embassy was represented by Anurag Kumar - Minister of Community Affairs; Dr. Thelma John David - First Secretary; and, Mr. Vinayak Prataprao Chavan, First Secretary.

NCAIA was represented by Harish Kolasani- National President; Sunil K Singh- Chairman; Dr. Bharat Barai, a hematology specialist in Merrillville, IN and has been practicing for 41 years; and, Dr.Jampala Choudary, a Professor psychiatry
Rosalind Franklin University, Chicago.

Dr. Prasad Garimella, MD was a main speaker at the conference. He is a critical care medicine specialist in Lawrenceville, GA and has been practicing for 20 years. He specializes in critical care medicine, pulmonary disease. Dr. Prasad Garimella gave an overview of the situation in the state of Georgia, and the many challenges his state faces as the pandemic is fast spreading. “Everyone needs to act like a Health Care Professional and need to have the best attitude in order to defeat this deadly virus.” He said, “Social distancing is not isolating. Keep in touch with loved ones. Stay busy and stay connected. Filter and assess the news, look for credible sources to rely upon.”

Dr. Arunachalam Einstein was another speaker, who is an emergency medicine specialist in Everett, WA. He specializes in emergency medicine and internal medicine. Dr. Arunachalam Einstein gave an update of case status in his state. Number of positive cases is alarming, spreading rapidly especially among family members. He advocated for all to self quarantine as a way to prevent spreading. Go out only for essential things. Everyone coming to ED symptomatic and non-symptomatic and the staff must wear mask, which will prevent droplets from affecting others. Quoting studies and practices in many parts of the world, he said, “Even when going out to grocery shopping use masks.”
Another main speaker for the day was Dr. Usha Rani Karumudii, an infectious disease specialist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Easton Hospital and UPMC Passavant. Dr. Usha Kanumudi in her address said, Cornona virus has been there for long. The new virus is called novel because it’s highly infectious and we have high number of people with symptoms. “People of all ages are prone to the disease. Hand hygiene and social distancing will help prevent. Precautions while shopping, reduce trips. wash and decontaminate hands after going out,” she said.

The teleconference on March 25th had the following speakers: Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Professor, Chief of Pulmonary/ Critical Care Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston: Dr. Kumar Belani, Professor, Peds Anesthesiology & Critical Care, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Dr. Krishan Kumar, Peds Emergency Medicine, New York Presbyterian Queens Hospital; Dr. Brahma Sharma, Cardiologist, UPMC Pittsburgh, PA; and, Dr. Deeptha Nedunchezian, Emergency Medicine; Infectious Diseases, Statan Island, NY.
Another major initiative of AAPI has been the “Donate a Mask” program. “The COVOD-19 pandemic is a global war on this “rakshas” virus. As we are not prepared well, our frontline soldiers (physicians and other medical professionals) are working under suboptimal conditions with severe shortage of GS masks and other protective gear. As a results some of the foot soldiers (front line physicians) have succumbed to this deadly virus. To protect our fraternity, we have established a donation box on AAPI website under the banner “DONATE A MASK,” We request all the members to donate generously to fight this ferocious virus, which has put basic existence of entire human race at stake,” he urged AAPI members.
A Task Force consisting of Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President-Elect of AAPI, Dr. Sajani Shah, Chairwoman-Elect of AAPI’s BOD, and Dr. Ami Baxi, has been constituted to identify the hospitals and sending the supply of Masks/PPE directly.
Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, expressed great concern that “the current rate of infections will have a materially adverse effect on both our senior populations and our fellow physicians and healthcare workers who are on the front lines fighting the infection. “It’s essential to create a wholesale expansion of free COVID-19 testing available in order for identifying asymptomatic carries and then isolating them.”

For an update on the Pandemic and the noble initiatives of AAPI, please visit: www.appiusa.org