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Strength of Spirit and Cooperation Marks 37th Annual Indian Medical Gala


The halls of St. George were alive last night with the sights and sounds of India as hundreds of people from across the Region gathered for the 37th annual Indian Medical Association Gala, in support of the cooperation between the local Indian community and healthcare systems in both the region and worldwide.

The Indian Medical Association is non-profit organization formed in 1981 to maintain the identity of physicians of Indian origin practicing in Northwest Indiana. The IMA provides a forum for meeting, sharing and fostering professional and cultural advancement. They seek to establish and foster a bond of purposeful unity to enrich the Indian community at large with the whole society of North America.

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“Typically, we are active year-round, involved with medical education and community outreach,” said Dr. Venkat Vavilala, M.D., President of the IMA. “We get a lot of support from local businesses and hospitals and we are very grateful for that.”

This year’s event was happy to welcome the attendance of numerous local dignitaries, including Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer, U.S. Representative Pete Visclosky, and Lake County Commissioner Kyle W. Allen, as well as CEOs from several local hospitals, including Janice Ryba, CEO of St. Mary Medical Center of Hobart, Dan McCormick from Franciscan Health of Crown Point, and Dean Mazzoni of Franciscan Health of Michigan City.

Sponsoring the event were a number of local businesses and organizations, including RCS Home Healthcare Services, Albert’s Jewelers, and Fifth Third Bank, as well as local hospitals including Methodist Hospitals, Franciscan Alliance, Community Healthcare System, Porter Regional Hospital, and Pinnacle Hospital.

Donna Brandy is Director of Marketing for RCS Home Healthcare. Brandy said RCS is honored to be amongst the many amazing sponsors of the 37th Annual IMA Gala.

“This is our first year sponsoring this event,” said Brandy. “We’re all in healthcare, and this is a terrific way to connect with some outstanding physicians. We’re happy to support the IMA and to come here tonight, to network and connect with people and learn more about the good they put into the community and worldwide.’

“We’re all here to help people,” Brandy said. “It is amazing to absorb and learn so much more about the Indian culture and see the amazing fashion, cuisine, and arts.”

Maria Parks, Director of Health Services at Clarendale of Schererville, a residential facility that offers independent living, assisted living and memory care for seniors and those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, has glowing regard for both RCS Home Healthcare and the IMA.

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“RCS is a terrific organization. They offer outstanding home health services, so we work with them whenever we need skilled nursing care. Their nurses are wonderful, and they are simply terrific to work with,” Parks said.

Among those who worked diligently to ensure an entertaining evening for all who attended was Katie Boyle, Administrative Coordinator for the Indian Medical Association.

“Tonight is a very exciting evening where we can see the unbelievable possibilities that come from collaboration and partnership," Boyle said. "For more than 37 years, the Indian Medical Association has been hosting medical professionals, hospital administrators, local leaders and community members to celebrate at this event. With the support of our sponsors and volunteers, the IMA has the opportunity to reach out and give back to charity and to students who will become the future in healthcare, all while enjoying a taste of the rich culture of India. I'm very proud to be a part of this work." 

“The Indian community takes a lot of pride in their culture. We have a large Indian community here in Northwest Indiana, with a very rich history. We’re especially happy to see so many local hospitals come together here to support Indian culture and give to so many charities,” Boyle said.

Mayor Ron Meer of Michigan City was impressed with the strength and spirit of cooperation between different local cultures.

“This is the third time I’ve attended this event,” Meer said. “I’m honored to be here tonight as a guest of Dr. Kora. This is a terrific way to recognize some of the various cultures that we have here in Northwest Indiana, cultures that come together and work together. This is a way to recognize our region’s multicultural background.”

“It’s particularly touching to see the humanitarian work that those in the medical community do. This is an opportunity to come out, meet people, experience other cultures. It’s all about people understanding other people.”

Fred Halpern and son Josh Halpern of Albert’s Jewelers were happy to sponsor the event.

“Did you see some of the good work that they do? These doctors travel all over the world, doing charitable work. It’s just amazing,” said Fred Halpern.

“We have deep ties to the Indian community,” said Josh Halpern. “They are our friends, they are our clients, so to be able to be here tonight and to sponsor them is simply very near and dear to our hearts. The IMA is very active and helps to sponsor our work with multiple sclerosis, everything is reciprocal. We support them, they support us. That’s how it works.”

RCS would like to offer their condolences to those who were affected by the loss of Dr. Koppolu P. Sarma. For more information about the Indian Medical Association, please visit http://www.niima.org/.

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