Dr. Passey, a board-certified pediatrician, has been in private practice in Worcester for the last 35 years. Widely active in the community, he is a board member of the Indian Medical Association of New England (IMANE), the South East Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts, and the Devereux School. Since 2005 has been director of the Free Health Stop in Shrewsbury, a project of IMANE.
He is also a Community Trustee of the United Way of Central Massachusetts, Vice Speaker of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Governing Body, Chairperson of the Bylaws Committee of IMANE and India Society of Worcester, and has served as Chairperson of the Annual India Day Festival of the India Society of Worcester since 1988 and Asian Festival of South East Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts for the past 8 years.
Dr. Passey is a graduate of the Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal University, India, and serves on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. A member of the Massachusetts Medical Society since 1988, he is a district delegate to the state society and also served on the International Medical Graduates committee.
While he has a stellar record as a Pediatrician, he feels really passionate about serving the community. “His commitment to provide free health care to the needy is really remarkable. Week after week, rain, snow or shine he is always here at the Free Health Stop to help those who walk through the doors,” say his colleagues, who are inspired by his unwavering commitment to the cause. His community service activities earned him a citation from Governor Weld in 1992. Governor Weld also appointed him Commissioner to Asian American Commission in 1995. This year Governor Patrick also recognized his services.
His began his life’s journey in India. “I was born in Harda, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, India. There were seven children in my family – I am the youngest. Growing up in India was fun and I received all the love and affection anyone could ask for. Unfortunately, my mother passed away when I was only six years old. I was raised by my maternal grandmother and older siblings under the watchful eye, love and guidance of my father. Life was very simple in those days. I think anyone from the younger generation who reads this article will be surprised to know that my classes at the Annapura Prathmic Pathshalla were held outdoors where we sat on the ground and used a slate to write on. There were no telephones, televisions or computers! IMAGINE!! I continued my education at Indian English Middle School and then Higher Secondary School, both in Harda, M.P. My pre-med was at Government Science College in Jabalpur and I went to Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal for my medical education,” says Dr. Passey.
In 1972, he immigrated to Canada where he passed his ECFMG and worked as an Intern at Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg, Canada. He came to the United States in June, 1973, through an Internship Matching Program where he was matched with Worcester City Hospital in Worcester MA. During his internship at City Hospital he met his wife, Carolyn. She was working as a Pediatric nurse at the same hospital.
“When I first met her, I was very taken with her kindness and desire to help people. We fell in love and decided to get married. When my father learned about my desire to marry Carolyn, he was shocked. My father wrote a letter expressing his concerns. Carolyn took the initiative and replied to his letter. He was so moved by her letter that he made copies of the letter and send to all our relatives. Reading the letter made all the doubts vanish. Even my grandmother was happy,” says Dr. Passey.
His entire family came for his wedding. They planned to have a Catholic wedding followed by a Hindu wedding. However there was a tragedy. His sister-in-law died unexpectedly and hence there was no Hindu wedding at that time. However in 1982 after the birth of their daughter Kate, when they went to India, Carolyn surprised him by planning a Hindu wedding, as she really wanted the ceremony. His father explained the ceremony and translated the Sanskrit verses into English.
They have three children. “Our oldest son, Michael is a lawyer. He and his wife Jennifer have four sons – Eamon, Liam, and twins Colin and Declan. They live in Fairfax, VA where Mike works for the US Government. Our daughter, Katelyn, is a nurse practitioner and is married to Dr. Mark Pe, an Urologist. Katy and Mark have two sons - Noah and Alex and live in San Diego, CA. Our youngest son, Sean, also lives in Fairfax and is engaged to be married to his fiancée Lauren in a few months” says Dr. Passey.
What motivated him to become a doctor? “I would have to say the pre-mature death of my mother when I was so young and not ever knowing what really was the cause was a major reason. Also, coming in a close second, would be the lack of medical care for the unfortunate in India. Then, there are those who would say that I just wanted to be different from my brothers and father who were all in the engineering field,” he says with a smile.
Community service is central to both Carolyn and Sahdev . He has been part of many associations including the India Society of Worcester, Indian Medical Association of New England, Indo-American Forum for Political Education, American Association of Physician of Indian origin and Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Mass.
What motivates him to get involved in community service? “My inspiration is the the people around me. I am inspired when I see how people, who already have so much on their plate, somehow find the time to volunteer for groups whose missions they believe in and those who perform community service, not for their gain but to help better the lives of those in need. I became interested in the India Society of Worcester through people like the Patel, Joshi and Sharma families. At first it was a way for my children to be exposed to their Indian heritage and for Carolyn to be introduced to the Indian culture. One thing led to another and soon the whole family was involved in many aspects of the society. I got involved in other organizations because I was inspired by how hard people worked to spread their message and I felt I could help. Through Carolyn’s involvement with food pantries, I got the idea of starting a medical clinic which could serve those who have little or no medical insurance. A large percentage of our patients at Free Health Stop are visitors to this country who, even with insurance, are not covered for most medical situations. I admit that it does feel good when we, as doctors from the clinic, are able to identify and treat ailments that would otherwise go untreated” says Dr. Passey.
Despite his busy schedule, it is not all work and no play for Dr. Passey. He loves to watch light comedy TV programs and action movies. His favorite movies are Ghost and Pakezaah. Raj Kumar, Meena Kumari and Saira Banu are his favorite film stars. He loves Chinese food, especially Schezuan Chicken with peanuts. He loves the Beatles and Kishore Kumar.
His reading is focused on medical journals. He has an unusual hobby - Woodworking. He made a cradle when his first son was born and he still has that cradle. He loves cricket and collects stamps. Aruba is a favorite travel destination.
Did he have any role models that he looks up to? “If there is any one role model in my life who taught me by example and with his deeds, that would be my father, Shri Harbanslal Passey. He was a very hard working, honest and trustworthy person who always believed in working hard to achieve whatever you wanted in your life. Love of family, education for his children and giving a helping hand to those who were in need were some of the things I learned from my father" says Dr. Passey. "Dr. Brad Griffin is my role model in the professional sphere. He was a Neonatologist who came to Worcester and started the first Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in all of central Massachusetts at the former Memorial Hospital. I was fortunate to have worked with him from 1995 to 1998. He was the one person who gave me the confidence to be what I am today. He helped and guided me through my early professional career”
Life has not always been a bed of roses for this ever smiling doctor. ” There have been many tragedies in my life. The death of my parents, my sister and many loved ones is hard to bear. Yet it is balanced by the many wonderful moments for me to cherish. My first date with Carolyn, our wedding day, the birth of our children, the marriages of our children, the birth of our grandchildren, receiving my Green Card and citizenship, passing my Board Exam, starting my practice with ZERO patients, buying my first car, receiving the Key to City of Worcester and being recognized by the Governor of Massachusetts and others have been very special”.
Any special message for our readers? ”Every one of us has something to offer. It does not have to be only monetary. Your personal time commitment and physical involvement means a lot. Do not wait for someone to ask you to do something, if you are capable volunteer. I gave a slogan to Forum while I was their president, “Get involved and be counted”. I very strongly believe in “Kar Khudi ko buland itna ki har takdeer se pahle Khuda bande se khood puchhe batta teri raja kaya hi”
What guides me through life is the following prayer:
God, grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change,
The COURAGE to change the things I can,
And the WISDOM to know the difference
When asked about a favorite quote he picked a Hindi one -
Ujjale aapni yaadon ko hamare saath rehne do
na jaane kis gali mein zindaki ki shaam ho jaye
Let our shinning memories always be with us. We never know in which street the evening of our life will be
It is an inspiration to be in the company of one so compassionate. We thank Dr. Passey for all he does for the community and wish him and Carolyn a lovely life ahead.