sudheer chauhan

Dr. Sudheer S. Chauhan seen in happier times with his wife. (photo provided)

Dr. Sudheer S. Chauhan, an Indian American physician who dedicated his life to the service of thousands of his patients in the New York region, succumbed to the deadly coronavirus on May 19.

Chauhan, an internal medicine specialist in South Richmond Hill, New York, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was battling for his life for the past few weeks, died of complications from the illness.

“Our Father, Dr. Sudheer Singh Chauhan, Internal Medicine Physician and Associate Program Director IM Residency Program at Jamaica Hospital, New York passed away on May 19 after battling with COVID for two months. We will miss this unique, kind, gentle and caring spirit. May his soul rest in peace,” wrote his daughter, Sneh Chauhan, on the COVID-19 Physicians Memorial. 

Chauhan, who graduated from medical school in 1972, has had nearly half a century of diverse experience, particularly in internal medicine. He received his graduate medical education from GSUM Medical College, University of Kanpur, India, in 1972. He was chief resident in internal medicine at Jamaica Hospital and graduated in 1997. Board certified in internal medicine, Chauhan also received his MRCP and FRCP from the Royal College of Physicians and FACP from the American College of Physicians.

He joined the Department of Medicine at Jamaica Hospital upon graduation in 1997 and was currently working as a faculty supervisor and attending physician. He was also the associate program director in the Internal Medicine Residency Program for the hospital.

Priya Khanna, 43, an Indian American nephrologist, died in a New Jersey Hospital last month, and the deadly virus also took the life of her father Satyendra Khanna, a general surgeon, after being in critical condition in the intensive care unit in the same hospital for several days.

“We have a proud moment, it is (also) a scary moment; it is a mixed feeling, but this virus is a deadly virus,” said Suresh Reddy, president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, describing the situation under which physicians treat people infected with the virus. “They tend to work disproportionately in areas that are medically underserved like rural and inner city areas, taking on a heavier workload with patients who are more ill. We are definitely in the frontline fighting this deadly battle,” against the coronavirus, Reddy said.

“Dr. Chauhan is one of the most loved and admired physicians at the Jamaica Medical Center,” Dr. Raj Bhayani, who has known Chauhan personally, informed this writer. “He was a very kind-hearted person and had served his patients with passion and devotion and taught medical residents for several decades.  The Indian American community and the fraternity of doctors, particularly in  the New York region, will miss him forever,” said Bhayani, president of AAPI-QLI.

During a recent candlelight vigil and inter-faith prayer organized by AAPI, with one minute of silence with folded hands and heads bowed, the AAPI members and spiritual leaders prayed for the speedy recovery of Drs. Ajay Lodha, Anjana Samaddar, Sunil Mehra and thousands of other healthcare professionals who are on the frontlines and have been admitted to the hospital and receiving treatment. 

 “While it’s more common among elderly and with multiple comorbidities, COVID-19 infection is also common in healthcare workers as they get exposed during their line of duty. We have reports of several thousands of healthcare workers who have got COVID-19 infection and many of them are critically ill in intensive care units. Several Indian American healthcare professionals  have been admitted in hospitals and we have already lost one young physician to this pandemic,” said Jayesh Shah, president, South Texas Wound Associates, and president, American College of Hyperbaric Medicine.

“Indian American physicians are bearing the brunt of this pandemic in the U.S.,” said Joseph M. Chalil, a cardiologist and professor at several universities in the United States. “Not a day goes by without hearing about many of them getting infected with Coronavirus, and several of them fighting for their life, because of their disproportionate share of the population in the healthcare field. This pandemic is hitting close to home for me and my colleagues,” Chalil said.

There have been proud moments as week. Last week, Uma Madhusudana, who graduated from Mysore Medical College and currently works in a New York hospital treating COVID-19 patients and saving several lives, was honored. More than 200 cars with recovered patients, relatives and police passed by in front of her house to express their gratitude for her services.

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