A Decade of Professional Development

Celebrating the 10th Year Anniversary of the BIMDA Medical Expo

How does a non-profit organization go from being small in scale to large in community impact without having any employees or office space? For BIMDA, Brevard’s Indian-American Medical Association,the answer came from a landmark event first thought of by Glad Kurian, the group’s creative driver and honorary executive director.

The concept of a medical expo was first witnessed by Kurian in 2002 during his travels to Ocala on routine business visits. At the time, the Indian physicians in Ocala were conducting annual expo meetings and raising funds for community causes. After attending two of the annual expo meetings, Kurian gathered sufficient information and advice from the Ocala group to experiment with the idea in Brevard County.

“At the time, BIMDA (incorporated three years prior) had very little seed money, which was barely sufficient to withstand an event failure,” says Kurian, who founded BIMDA in partnership with local pediatrician Dr. Mahesh Soni in the mid-1990s.

“Initially, the goals for BIMDA were to build a network to educate and exchange culture through charity, both locally and internationally. We aimed to allow for the opportunity to have continuing medical education (CME) in efforts to help the community grow and help each other succeed,” explains Dr. Mukesh Aggarwal, a local ophthalmologist. As the founding president of the first Indian Association of the Space Coast dating back to 1991, Dr. Aggarwal’s involvement in BIMDA during its establishment was significant in helping to get the organization off and running.

Since the original members of BIMDA felt the opportunity and need to bring CME to Brevard County was so important, under the leadership of Dr. Kanti Bhalani as president in 2002 and Kurian as executive director, the group experimented with the first such medical expo. “The group took a calculated risk, precisely executing this complicated event and its many parts,” says Kurian.

The dynamic duo of Dr. Bhalani and Kurian was unstoppable. The two worked long hours and still recall e-mail exchanges as late or early as 2 a.m. on the topic.

“The first expo in 2002 was quite dramatic,” says Kurian. “We held town meetings with large numbers of physicians, volunteers and others to brainstorm ideas. It was off to a running start and served as a fun project for everyone on the team.”

The highlight of the day was a mock exercise by First Flight of Health First, demonstrating a hostage rescue complete with Palm Bay SWAT Team, fire department and hostage negotiators, ending with rescue and recovery of the hostage and a quick airlift of the victim to the Trauma Center. It demonstrated the speed and efficiency with which multiple agencies can cooperate in an emergency situation.

By the time BIMDA’s first medical expo concluded, the organization’s presence as a formidable force on the Space Coast was becoming well known among Indian and non-Indian physicians alike. “The event turned out to be a big success, paving the way for an annual event of this size,” says Kurian.

The group took a break in 2003 in order to devote attention to the AAPI National Convention in Orlando. Under the leadership of Dr. Kiran Patel, AAPI president, BIMDA played a strategic role in organizing the Orlando event, along with DOSA of Orlando (currently renamed CAPI), FAPI of Tampa Bay,  PBIMA of Palm Beach, IAMA of Jacksonville, IPOF of Ft Lauderdale and TIPS of Port St. Lucie. These groups led the way in forming a statewide network of Indian physicians. Today, a more formal Federation of Indian Physicians is being formed with leadership from Orlando- based physicians.

The group resumed the expo in 2004 with strong leadership by Dr. Ashok Shah of Titusville, who emerged as BIMDA’s fundraising superstar. Under his guidance, every president since then has had a great experience conducting expo events annually, despite the economic ups and downs.

BIMDA’S RAPID GROWTH

“When we first started, we held five small-scale meetings a year,” reflects Kurian of BIMDA. “The group quickly went from a fledgling outfit to the organizer of major medical conferences. It all happened by chance and very rapidly.”

Indeed. The organization that started with 40 physicians had swelled to over a hundred by the early 2000s.

“Fine tuning the organizational activities at the expo helped garner attention and helped us gain new membership,” says Dr. Ashok Shah, sponsorship chairman and former president of BIMDA.

“BIMDA’s goals to benefit the greater good, as well as the hard work of the initial and subsequent leadership also helped to begin to attract new members,” adds Dr. Gobivenkata Balaji, BIMDA’s current president.

AN ESTABLISHED PRESENCE TEEMING WITH PRIDE

Today, with 180 members strong, BIMDA celebrates 10 years of its landmark expo event that brings together local health care professionals for the highest caliber CME to benefit the Space Coast community at large.

Reflecting on the achievements of BIMDA since its first medical expo 10 years ago, the organization’s leaders cite varying sources of pride. Dr. Aggarwal, for example, points to the day-to-day hard work of members in order to build a better community. Dr. Soni is delighted by the record number of expo attendees, local charitable support and the organization’s great social entertainment. And Dr. Balaji boasts of BIMDA’s CME presented by national thought leaders, such as Dr. Nirat Beohar of Mount Sinai Medical Center, as well as the organization’s ability to unite the local competing health care systems. Kurian remains the driving force of creativity for the group and a trend setter, constantly bringing new ideas and expanding the concept to include more and more players in the health care arena.

“The physician force in Brevard County is highly skilled with experts from almost all branches of medicine with physicians and dentists from India making up a number of this force. The constant interactions among the various physicians who share many common patients have made BIMDA physicians such an integral part in the health care of the community,” adds Dr. Ravi Shankar who currently serves as vice president of BIMDA.

And while the organization’s founders initially reached out to physicians of Indian descent, today the group welcomes physicians of all backgrounds and ethnicities who have the same beliefs as BIMDA.

“BIMDA’s goals have been enhanced to become an all-inclusive organization. Physicians of different cultures and backgrounds view BIMDA as a unifying group exploring different cultures and encouraging all physicians to become members,” explains Dr. Homi Cooper, a former president of BIMDA.

“Our stretch goal is to have every physician and dentist in Brevard County become a member of BIMDA,” he continues. “The organization is a uniting lynch pin because all our members belong to all the major hospitals in the county and are known for their medical acumen, charity and willingness to serve the community.”

One Comment

  • April 13, 2012 | Permalink |

    Wow, this article is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing these things, thus I am going to let know her.

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