FREMONT (KPIX 5) – Fremont is one of most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in Bay Area: 43% of the population was born in other countries, like this week’s Jefferson Award winner, who is passionate about bringing health care to everyone in his community.
Dr. Bhupinder Bhandari recently held a blood pressure cuff securely on the arm of an older Sikh gentleman.
“Do you check your blood pressure sometimes?” he asked.
“Yes,” the man responded, nodding.
It seemed like a regular doctor’s office visit, but this wasn’t Dr. Bhandari’s office. It was the Fremont Senior Center, where he volunteers his services.
A board-certified gastroenterologist and member of the American College of Physicians, he’s frequently out working in the community.
Fremont Planning Commissioner Yogi Chugh says Dr. Bhandari was instrumental in starting free health clinics at the local Sikh and Hindu temples.
“I think he is our favorite son,” said Chugh. “(The idea is) let’s give care to those who are less fortunate. Let’s give care to those who can’t afford it.”
Like many of the his patients, Dr. Bhandari wasn’t born in the United States. He’s from a small village in India and doesn’t forget the sacrifices his father made.
“He left a small town and came to a big city so we could see a better education,” Dr. Bhandari remembered.
For almost 30 years he’s been paying it forward.
“There is always immigrant influx and many times the immigrant patients and their families may not have insurance coverage,” Dr. Bhandari explained.
John Haider with the Afghan Elderly association says what sets Dr. Bhandari apart, is his humanity.
“You don’t expect a doctor to call you at home and ask, ‘How are you doing, how do you feel?’ He does,” Haider said.
And he does it in Farsi — in fact, he’s learned the basics of 10 languages to help patients feel comfortable. He’s helped coordinate an annual health fair in Fremont to bring awareness to local health issues.
“Diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, acid reflux, coronary artery disease — they are rampant,” Dr. Bhandari said. “Our community has an abundance of these ailments.”
When he isn’t out in the community, Dr. Bhandari is seeing patients at his private practice, but even there he’s committed to mentoring medical students.
“It’s very fulfilling if I can use my background and training to help other people arrive at their destination,” he said.
It’s what he calls his “True Earning” — the satisfaction that comes from being of service.
So, for almost 30 years of volunteering in his community so that all families might have access to health education and care, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Dr. Bhupinder Bhandari.
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