Indian Doctors Charity Clinic Finds a Modern, New Home at GSH

Members of the Medical Executive Committee (from left) K.C. Mehta, Dr. Sangeeta Sakia, Dr. Arusha Bavare, Shephali Kadia and Harish Katharani (Dr. Prasant Gajwani was absent).

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: It’s a dream that became a reality through the perseverance and devotion of a few people who believed in helping those in medical distress.

As such projects go, it started with a vision to help others who couldn’t afford simple medical treatment. It touched the hearts of the husband and wife doctor team of Dr. Suresh and Sunita Moonat who started the embryonic Indian Doctors Charity Clinic in March 1999 in a leased space in a building on Bintliff Dr off Bellaire Blvd. behind Fire Station 51.

For 7 years, the Moonats traveled every weekend from their home in The Woodlands to volunteer at the small clinic and encouraged others from the Indian Doctors Association to spend a few hours there too. Word spread of the free clinic that served as a lifeline for many from the Gulfton area and other Desis who had no insurance or resources for first line diagnostics.

Waiting area & entrance to Exam Rooms of the clinic

To help guide it along, Gopal Rana became its treasurer from 2005 through 2009 and K.C. Mehta joined as the Secretary in 2006. Mehta, an IT specialist with his own company, has stayed on since then and has later become its President and chief guide for the ensuing years.

From 2007 through 2010, Dr. Rakesh Mangal was the President, and later from 2008 to 2016, Dr. K.T. Shah took over. In 2012 the clinic moved to a small second floor space Mehta found in an office building across from Bellaire General Hospital near South Rice in Bellaire. Long lines of patients usually snaked through the corridors every Saturday as there was only a tiny waiting room.

Dr. Shah retired in 2017 due to health reasons but not before convincing Dr. Kiran Gandhi to become the new Medical Director. As Dr. Gandhi was only interested in volunteering at the clinic, all other non-medical tasks were taken care by K.C. Mehta.

Patients waiting area can accommodate 25-30 patients

The IDCC stayed in Bellaire till October 2022 when it lost its lease and Mehta once again scouted for another location. He was able to negotiate a lease with the Gujarati Samaj Houston Center on West Bellfort and the Beltway. Construction of the 1,800 sf second-floor space finished in April this year, with a soft opening on May 6.

The new clinic is a far cry from the simple, small space that it started in. Now it boasts five exam rooms, including the Eye Clinic and a spacious 1,000 sf waiting room for the anticipated patient demand. The furniture was donated by Sugar Land Methodist Hospital through the efforts of Dr. Sangeeta Sakia. The clinic has new computers with Electronic Medical Records Software for paperless transactions, online appointments and volunteer registrations.

To run the day-to-day clinic operation, in January, a Medical Executive Committee was formed composed of Dr. Arusha Bavare, Dr. Sangeeta Sakia, Dr. Prashant Gajwani, K.C. Mehta and Treasurer Harish Katharani. The annual operating budget for the IDCC is $50K to $60K.

“In order to recover the investment made in the new clinic, I contacted many community members to sponsor the exam rooms in the loving memory of Dr. K.T. Shah”, explained K.C. Mehta. He was able to get the generous support from 8 sponsors: Dr. Ragini Lakhia, Dr. Samir & Swati Joglekar, Dr. Nilesh and Dr. Dipti Bavishi, Ramesh and Sudha Parikh, Dr. Arusha Bavare,

Dr. Sangeeta Sakia (Tripathy Family), Dr. Suresh and Dr. Sunita Moonat and the Indo American Forum of Fort bend, each of whom pledged $10,000.

Mehta also got a generous donation of $20,000 from Panna Bhatia representing the now closed non-profit, Friends Helping Friends. IDCC also receives regular support from the Indian Doctors Association, the Indo American Charity Foundation and the Rotary Club of Spring Branch. Generous donations were also received from the family of the late Gopal Savjani and from Col Raj and Kanwal Bhalla.

To show its appreciation for all its donors, supporters and sponsors, the IDCC held an event in the large foyer of the GSH Center on Saturday, July 15 over a delicious lunch catered by Indian Summer restaurant for 150 guests.

They all got a tour of the new clinic and heard from K.C. Mehta, and other Committee members about the history of the IDCC and the plans for the future. Dr. Bavare presented the path going forward for the clinic and explained how to use the website to get appointments and to volunteer. Dr. Vasvani Malineni explained the eye clinic operation and future projects. Dr. Gandhi was honored with a making a difference community Award for her tireless services to IDCC.

In closing, they heard a touching tribute to Dr. K.T. Shah, from his daughter Gopi Shah, for whom the clinic was the final chapter of devotion in his life.