'How I Give Back to My Community'

November 14, 2011

Cutting back on clinic hours to focus on philanthropy, OB/GYN Vimal Goyle works with several charities, including Dress for Success and the American Red Cross.

I am a solo OB/GYN who has practiced medicine in Wichita, Kan., since 1977. During that time period, I have delivered approximately 6,000 babies. After 30 years, I decided to limit my practice to gynecology only. As a result, my practice has shrunk significantly. I was prepared for that because it was part of my decision to make a change.

Since I have more time at hand, I decided to participate and volunteer in several nonprofit organizations in my community. Currently I volunteer for Dress for Success, the Kansas public television station KPTS, and am on the board of directors at the American Red Cross, Central Plains Region.

I have also been actively involved in the American Association of Physicians of India (AAPI) for many years. Currently I am on the board of trustees which is a three-year term. AAPI is a national organization with 18,000 members. However, we represent a constituency of 47,000 physicians from India. As a regional director from Region 3, I am a part of the executive committee. We have spring and fall governing-body meetings in addition to the annual convention.

AAPI is the largest ethnic professional organization in the United States. We work on some legislative issues; e.g. obtaining J 1 Visas, and helping to increase the number of U.S. residency slots for medical students from India. We are also very influential in social and cultural issues for our members. The organization provides continuing medical education credit hours, and is politically active. One branch of AAPI, called Charitable Foundation, assists in supporting 18 free medical clinics in India and about five in the United States. I am a patron trustee of this foundation.

I was able to start a new Chapter of AAPI in Wichita, Kan., in 2009.This is one of more than 150 chapters in the country. We count 40 members and hold quarterly meetings. This gives us the opportunity to share ideas and network, while at the same time to promote the mission of National AAPI.

While I find great satisfaction working with other physicians, I find that Dress for Success is my favorite charity. I sit on the professional-women's group committee which has monthly meetings. We arrange educational speakers and teach disadvantaged women how to maximize their wardrobe for success in the professional arena. Our organization helps women who are poor, looking for work, finishing drug rehabilitation, recovering from domestic violence, or other challenging life events. About 50 to 60 women attend our meetings each month: we provide free meals, educational lectures, leadership council, and an opportunity to shop at the boutique run by Dress for Success members. Each woman is allowed to pick out four outfits to be worn during job interviews. They also have an opportunity to choose accessories: shoes, bags, and jewelry. We encourage the attendees to return each month to share their progress.

Best of all, in November 2010 - with the help of local businessmen, engineers, and nurses - I and a group of physicians started a free clinic for uninsured people of the community. We call it the Mayflower Clinic; signifying the work done by immigrants. We are open only on weekends: Saturday and Sunday afternoons. One local neurosurgeon has lent us his beautiful office space, at no cost. We are working on a minimal budget - raising money now and then. We have not been qualified for any state grant yet. We do have the ability to get basic lab tests done at the behest of a local private medical center. We have been able to see close to 500 patients so far. When I was asked to become the medical director of the clinic, I happily accepted the challenge.

Our patients have few resources and are grateful for our help. One of our patients was a woman in her early fifties who drove a truck for a living - her hemoglobin turned out to be 3.5 g/dL. You can imagine how I felt when I saw that report! With the help of nurses and a few phone calls, we were able to send her to the local emergency room where she was admitted to the hospital and received nine units of blood.

Another patient was found to have a blood sugar of 500 mg - she had quit taking her medications six months prior when she lost her job and insurance. She had delayed medical care because she couldn't afford it. Fortunately we were able to provide the appropriate medical care; giving her new prescriptions and a glucometer.

Even though I have stretched myself thin, I am motivated to prioritize my interests in order to keep giving; contributing to the society which has given so much to me.

Vimal Goyle, MD, is an OB/GYN who has practiced medicine for over 30 years in Wichita, Kan. She cut back on her clinic hours to focus on philanthropy in her community; she works with several charities, including Dress for Success, the American Red Cross, and the American Association of Physicians of India.