Dr Sachin Patel's daily commute to work takes him first to the ISSO temple at Lowell before he sees his patients at the Billerica Medical and Health Center in Billerica. “It is a good way to start the day and brings peace of mind” he says. Affiliated to the Lowell General hospital Dr Patel joined the Billerica practice a few months ago but has already notched up patients from Nashua, Billerica, and other nearby towns. He attended medical school at the Smt. N.H.L. Municipal Medical College, Ahmedabad, India and did his Residency in Internal Medicine at MetroWest Medical Center, Framingham, MA and at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY. However he admits that the choice of a career in medicine came on an impulse. “I ended up going in for an interview to be an chemical engineer but chose the medical profession instead”, he says. Part of the reason behind this decision was his father’s involvement with community work. For a number of years, his father would help pilgrims who went on foot in Gujarat to some of the holy spots by providing them with medical care and other amenities. “His sense of purpose to volunteer made me think of serving people and I have never regretted that decision”, says Dr Patel.
As an internal medicine practitioner, Dr Patel pays emphasis to the importance of preventive care in this country. “In India, we approach a doctor only when there is a problem, but here we insist on annual check ups, screenings etc and make sure that people can take care of their health before any illness strikes you. It is a great practice in terms of patient care management”. Why did he opt for internal medicine? ‘I think it affords the biggest challenge in terms of overall health concerns. Many doctors go in for specialization and that involves only the part that they specialize in. Whereas as a primary care physician, I look at the whole picture and the range of work that it involves is far more satisfying. The number of physicians practicing internal medicine is on the decrease so it is all the more vital that doctors opt for this line of care”.
His residency has taught him a lot of things on patient care, communication and concern. “It is the time you learn and pick up a lot of issues in medicine because everyday is different and you have a chance to see a variety of patients. This is very valuable in the long run as a physician”. At Billerica he comes into such patients regularly and the advice and treatment gives him the experience to tackle new patients each time.
Dr Patel also outlined some of the common ailments of South Asians. “It is in our genetic make up that we suffer from heart disease, cholesterol and lack of Vitamin B-12 and and D deficiency. Our food habits use a lot of oil and we need to change that. Baking is a good option. A diet of protein, high fiber will also help
Asked what he did in his spare time, Dr Patel said he was passionate about football and cricket. He also volunteers actively at the local temple, participates in IMANE activities and practices Reiki and Meditation. “Besides I have been involved in the Brahma Kumari movement for a while. The effects of all these healing techniques cannot be disputed,” he says and “studies have proved that some of them have helped in lowering the blood pressure and cholesterol level of patients”
His most recent professional community initiative along with other doctors in the system has been the setting up of a Personal Choice Plan for patients who cannot afford insurance. “It is a resource that we are offering to the community. What it does it for a reasonable sum of $550 a year; a patient can receive periodic check ups and other health benefits that will allow him to lead a healthy life. We are offering a similar care with a different fee for a family of two adults and 2 children. Our ultimate goal is to allow everyone to have affordable health care and to be able to visit a doctor for minor ailments without the fear of expensive fees. I think that would go a long way for preventive health care and a better quality of life.”