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Evergreen Desi Member Showcase presents

Dr. Meena Sathappan, Pediatrician, Aasha Pediatrics.

We proudly introduce our long-time Evergreen Desi and experienced Pediatrician, Dr. Meena Sathappan of Aasha Pediatrics.

Dr. Sathappan is the Diamond Sponsor for the Ist Annual Evergreen Desi Diwali Party 2005 to be held at the Mt. Hamilton Grange Hall on Nov. 11, 2005. We thank her for her generous support.

Dr. Meena Sathappan runs Aasha Pediatrics, a solo Pediatric practice in the Evergreen area of San Jose, CA.

Dr. Sathappan's clinic offers personalized service and high quality patient care.

She can communicate with her patients in six languages. She is fluent in English, Hindi, and Tamil and familiar with Telugu, Punjabi and Spanish.

Dr. Meena Sathappan is a highly qualified and experienced physician with an impeccable medical pedigree. She has studied and received world-class training at highly reputed medical institutions, both in India and the United States.

Dr. Sathappan completed her MBBS from the prestigious JIPMER institute in Pondicherry, India, which grants admission every year to only about 60 meritorious candidates, selected from a pool of about 25,000 students through a rigorous, highly competitive examination held all over India.

Dr. Sathappan did her Pediatrics residency at the well known Columbia University, NY, USA. After completing a stint as Pediatrician in a medically underserved area in Arizona, she moved to the Evergreen area of San Jose, CA. She worked as a pediatrician in several area hospitals and clinics before opening her own practice, Aasha Pediatrics, in 2002.

Evergreen Desi Buzz met Dr. Sathappan at her Evergreen area residence recently.

What made you decide to open a practice here?

When I was planning to open Aasha Pediatrics, I found that a lot of patients from the Evergreen area were driving all the way to Los Gatos near Good Samaritan Hospital, or sometimes even further, to consult a Pediatrician. As you may know, most doctors open their practices in the vicinity of major hospitals like Good Samaritan or El Camino.

I realized that there was a real need for a good doctor in this area. I decided to go against conventional wisdom and open my practice here in Evergreen - close to where my patients live.

"I chose the name 'Aasha' from the first and last syllables of my children's names, Aakash and Varsha.

Aasha means 'hope' in Hindi."

--Dr. Meena Sathappan

Dr. Meena Satthappan, with her daughter Varsha (9) and son Aakash (12), in their Evergreen area home.

Why did you decide to be a pediatrician?

I was about 10 or 11 years old when I decided that I wanted to be a Pediatrician. Before that, I was not very studious. When I realized what it took to become a Pediatrician, I became focussed and really started working hard at my studies. This was all I wanted to do with my life.

When I did my medical rotations, I would love my stints in the Pediatrics wing. Children have a boundless energy and enthusiasm that is very endearing. And when we diagnose what ails them correctly and prescribe the right remedy, they recover very quickly. Once they are back on their feet, it is hard to believe that they were feeling poorly just a few hours earlier. Seeing this and knowing that I helped make it possible, gives me lots of satisfaction as a physician.

''I do not believe in sending my patients to urgent care or the ER unless it is a true emergency."--Dr. Meena Sathappan

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a pediatrician?

Unlike adult patients, children can't tell you what is wrong. Whether it is a headache or a stomachache, the child's response is the same. They can only cry continuously. So diagnosing the problem is often like putting the pieces of a puzzle together.

I enjoy the challenge to my skills and training. I take a detailed medical history, ask all the necessary questions and do a very thorough medical examination. I have close to 10 years of experience practising Pediatrics.

Tell us about your work philosophy?

I just love working with children. When I was setting up Aasha Pediatrics, the arrangement of every room, and even the instruments I use, was chosen with the comfort of my patients in mind. For instance, my stethoscope has a dalmation dog on it. It is a small detail, yes, but every aspect of my practice is important to me. Each room is furnished in a child-friendly way, with toys and in cheerful colors. It distracts the children while I examine them and helps make their visit to the Doctor memorable and enjoyable.

I strongly believe that one of the most important things a Pediatrician can offer her patients is consistency and continuity of care. Since I have a solo practice, my patients don't have to worry about having to deal with a different physician if they come in with a problem on weekends or after-hours. My patients and their parents are comfortable in the knowledge that whether they come in for a well-baby check or sudden illness, they get to see me, all the time.

I literally get to watch the children grow up over the years and develop a relationship with them and their family. This knowledge of the patient's history helps me zero in on what is going on and fine-tune my diagnosis without having to order unnecessary tests.

I take great pride in being available at all times for my patients. A parent's concern for their child is very natural. As a mother of two school-age children, I empathize with this concern. I make it a point to personally answer any question or address any concern that my patients or their parents may have, be it a small detail or a big issue.

What about emergencies?

The well-being of my patients is very important to me. I do not believe in sending children to urgent care or the ER unless it is a true emergency.

I have set up my office phone so that I get paged when someone leaves a voice message either during weekends or after hours. I call them back and evaluate the situation.

If the situation warrants it, I tell them to meet me in my clinic. I prefer to reopen my office and personally attend to my patient's emergency needs rather than send them, in that state, to urgent care to wait for many hours before they get to see a doctor.

I prefer to personally evaluate the child before taking the decision to send the child to the ER.

I feel that urgent care and ER are intended for true emergencies like heart attacks and the like. We should not abuse this facility for minor ailments like ear infections. Nowadays, insurance rates for ER visits are very high. Not only are ER visits very expensive, but they unnecessarily expose children to some serious pathogens during the two or three hour wait in the waiting room. The possibility of my patients contracting something even more serious is just not acceptable to me.

"Aasha Pediatrics offers free shots to infants with no medical coverage on a temporary basis if the parents have lost their job."

--Dr. Meena Sathappan

Why did you decide to open a solo practice?

It gives me the flexibility to practice medicine the way I want.

Large multi-physician groups have strict guidelines that must be followed by every Doctor who works there. In my own practice, not only do I get to set my rules, I also get the leeway to deal with my patients on an individual basis. For example, some parents are very conservative in their beliefs and don't want to immunize their children. I can work with such patients if I am a private practitioner.

But in terms of administrative details, marketing and management, a solo practice is definitely a lot more work. It is also very expensive. For example, when we first leased the Aasha Pediatrics offices, we were literally given a portion of the building shell to work with. We had to pay to construct the inner walls, put in the clinic facilities and so on.

If you are a solo practicioner, what happens when you are out of town or sick?

During times when I am not available or on vacation, which is pretty rare, you can be sure that there will always be a qualified doctor to attend to the patients at the office. I have made arrangements with a group of Pediatricians who attend to the calls from my patients in that situation.

What kinds of insurance do you accept?

We accept all kinds of medical insurance, including Medi-Cal. My Aasha Pediatrics website has a comprehensive list of all the insurances that we accept.

A lot of Evergreen Desis get families visiting from India with kids. Do you accept patients who have no insurance?

Yes, I do. My charges for patients without insurance are very nominal. I try to save them as much money as possible on the cost of the medicine by giving them my free samples, and by prescribing over-the- counter medication, wherever possible.

Even people who live here - if they lose their insurance between jobs, they can still come in. And if they have small children - infants - that need to be vaccinated, we can administer the vaccinations to them for free by using vaccines provided by the government. I charge a nominal sum to cover the vaccine administration costs.

What do you envision for the Evergreen area, from a medical point of view, in the next few years?

I think this area is going to grow a lot. Medically, a lot of services are already available. More services will become available soon.

Within my office complex, a stand-alone pharmacy and Stanford lab - where patients can get their lab tests done - are already open. The closest hospital, the Regional Medical Centre on Jackson, recently opened its newly renovated trauma centre.

The Regional Medical Centre is presently undergoing renovation as part of its continued expansion. This will be completed soon. In addition, a medical offices complex is being constructed close to the hospital, where, I believe, Stanford Hospital is planning to open satellite clinics. Specialists from Stanford will come over to attend to our local patients. This would save patients from having to drive all the way to Palo Alto to consult with a Stanford specialist.

Where did you hear of Evergreen Desis? How has this organization helped you?

We moved to this area in 2000 from Arizona. So we have really watched this area grow. I joined the Evergreen Desi mailing list when some friends recommended that I should join. When I started Aasha Pediatrics, it certainly helped me in spreading the word. In general, it's a very good resource from very simple things to very complicated issues. I really like the wide range of information that I can find just by going through the discussions.

I have recommended my patients to this mailing list when they asked me for help getting a nanny or a good preschool. I should add that they have been quite happy with the quality of information and choice they have found on the Evergreen Desi list.

About Aasha Pediatrics

Aasha Pediatrics is located conveniently close to Evergreen residents.
Address:        Aborn Professional Center, 2060 Aborn Road,
                     Suite 230, San Jose, CA 95121
Tel. no. :        (408) 274-9099
Office hours:   Mon, Wed, Fri.:              9:00 AM-5:00PM
                      Tues, Thurs: Close at     7:00PM **
** Please call the office for exact times of closure on some Tuesdays and Thusdays.

More about Dr. Meena Sathappan including a tour of her office is available at her Aasha Pediatrics website.

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