Visionary leader Dr. Ajay Lodha succumbs to COVID-19 after 8-month struggle

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Dr. Ajay Lodha giving a speech as president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in 2015. He died Nov. 21, 2020, after an 8-month long struggle against COVID-19. Photo: courtesy AAPI

New York-based physician and businessman Dr. Ajay Lodha, passed away Nov. 21, 2020, after a valiant struggle against the Coronavirus for eight months at the Cleveland Clinic. He passesd away peacefully surrounded by his wife Smita, his son Amit and his daughter Shweta, according to a press release from the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, AAPI.

“We are shocked and saddened at the passing away of Dr. Ajay Lodha, a visionary leader and past President of AAPI, who died early on November 21st, 2020, due to complications from COVID 19.” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, president of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) is quoted saying in the press release.

“Having known Ajay for more than 20 years, it is really sad to see him go before his time. He was a wonderful man, always working for the betterment of his fellow human beings,” Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, told News India Times, adding, “We will miss him greatly.”

Dr. Ajay Lodha, 6th from right (center) with Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, 3rd from left, and other members of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, during a visit to Mar-a-Lago, a private club of President Donald Trump, in March 2020. Photo courtesy AAPI

“In his passing away today, I have lost a dear Friend, Mentor, and Brother. We will cherish the wonderful days we spent together. Ajay, you will live in our hearts forever. We love you. OM Shanti,” Dr. Jonnalagadda added.

Dr. Lodha was well known in the community and among fellow physicians for both his medical and entrepreneurial skills.

He was a past president of Rajasthan Association of North America and RAJ­MAAI (Rajasthan

Medical Alumni Associ­ation Inc., Police Surgeon with Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, and Director of Research De­partment at Flushing Hospital, NY.

A past President of AAPI- Queens/Long Island chapter, Dr. Lodha was a former Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Caritas Health Care System representing St. John’s Hospital and Mary Immaculate Hospital in New York.

He was appointed a member of the Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos’s Minority and Women-Owned Business Advisory Council in 2015.

An Internist by profession, Dr. Lodha has had experiences in leading almost all areas of medicine. He owned two Nursing Homes in Long Island, New York and has been credited to be the founder of the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) and the Independent Physicians Association (APA).

Born in Rajasthan, he was a graduate of RNT Medical College, Udaipur, Rajasthan. Dr. Lodha completed his Residency at the Flushing Hospital, NY.

He was the founder and president of Queens Medical Services, a primary care practice with two locations serving Queens, NY since 1995, and was a partner in Hillaire and Nesconset Nursing homes.

The New York-based physician and leader, who was honored with the prestigious Ellis Island Medals of Honor in 2016, rose through the ranks of AAPI and served as the President of AAPI in 2015-16.

Dr. Lodha was a recipient of Lawrence J. Scherr Award of Excellence for being an Outstanding Physi­cian. He was also been honored for Out­standing Contributions to Research & Hypertension Department at the Flushing Hospital, NY.

In 2008, he was bestowed with the Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation Physician of the Year Award.

During the AAPI convention in 2016 at the AAPI Board of Trustees Luncheon Gala, Dr. Lodha was honored for his outstanding leadership, commitment to AAPI’s mission, and for carrying the entire AAPI family together, as well as for his contributions to realizing the lofty goals of AAPI.

Several leaders of AAPI felicitated Dr. Lodha recalling their interaction with him and anecdotes from the past.

“Dr. Ajay Lodha was very passionate about AAPI and a champion fundraiser. He was always there for everyone 24/7. He served as an Advisor to several AAPI Presidents. Dr. Lodha served as a mentor to several young upcoming leaders in AAPI. He will remain in our memories for ever,” Dr. Jonnalagadda said.

Dr. Ajay Lodha, a New York physician and past president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, who succumbed to COVID-19 at the Cleveland Clinic Nov. 21, 2020, seen here posing before a poster of India’s Independence Day celebrations. Photo: courtesy AAPI

Dr. Sajani Shah, chairwoman of AAPI’s Board of Trustees pointed to the fact that “The deadly Corona virus has placed the entire healthcare sector, and in particular the Indian American medical fraternity at the frontlines of the fight against the pandemic. We are deeply saddened by another hero, who gave up his life in caring for his patients.”

“Dr. Ajay Lodha’s heroic fight with Covid 19 epitomizes the struggles of frontline health workers. Dr. Lodha along with other physicians of Indian origin who have lost their lives due to the pandemic will continue to inspire us and AAPI forever,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, president-elect of AAPI.

Calling Dr. Lodha “a dear friend and courageous soul” Dr. Ravi Kolli, vice president of AAPI said, “He was man of passion, integrity, determination and generosity. He was truly one of a kind and it was a privilege to have been his friend. He fought till end with great valor befitting of a warrior. His dedication and love of his family was remarkable. His commitment to AAPI family was unprecedented. He was full of ideas and ideals to make the world a better place for all. He accomplished more in his short time on this earth. He will for ever be missed especially his irresistible smile.”

Describing Dr. Lodha as “One of the most beloved and dynamic AAPI leaders” Dr. Amit Chakrabarthy, secretary of AAPI said. “To me he was a long-time friend and advisor. I personally got to know him and his wife when we were contestants for AAPI treasurer about 12 years ago. I was reading his texts to me with all his wisdom and advice. Brought tears to my eyes. I remember when he made me change my plans and attend his global summit in Rajasthan. His requests are so heartfelt and genuine that one cannot refuse. At every AAPI meeting he was there partying with us with his charming magnetic personality. It is so devastating to hear of the great loss to me personally and to AAPI.”

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, treasurer of AAPI said, “This is a very sad news for the AAPI family. I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Lodha in AAPI for many years and learned a lot from him. Dr. Lodha was an able leader and did many constructive changes during his tenure as the president of AAPI. He will be missed dearly. My heartfelt condolences to his family.”

Dr. Suresh Reddy, Immediate past-president of AAPI, recalled his close bond with Dr. Lodha. “I cannot forget, I can only cherish: The time you gave me your bed and you slept on the sofa; For the countless hours you worked to help me serve AAPI through your guidance. For so passionately standing up for your belief in people, one of whom was me! For being my “Go to” guy for advice about mundane things in life also; For texting me from the hospital and saying that you will give your best fight like a true ‘Rajasthani warrior’ and, above all, for being my ‘Forever Brother’ through good time(s) and not so easy times. AAPI and I will be forever indebted to you for what you have been to our Indian community, to the medical fraternity and to India and America as a whole.”

Dr. Ajay Lodha, back row, third from right, with fellow members of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, AAPI, Photo courtesy AAPI

Dr. Raj Bhayani, AAPI-QLI president, who had worked very closely with Dr. Lodha said, “Dr. Ajay Lodha is one of a kind of leader and my closest friend who made a positive difference in the life of all those whom he had interacted with. His life journey was very inspiring as he has achieved so much during his short life span. His life has been a blessing and his memory a treasure. He is loved beyond words and will be missed beyond measure.”

In a message Dr. Krishan Kumar of Long Island, a close friend of Dr. Lodha said, “Dr Lodha sacrificed his life serving the community and his patients.  He has left us for his heavenly abode for another mission. His charming personality and kindness will be remembered for ever. I will truly miss him.”

Dr. Jagdish Gupta, a member of the Board of Trustees of AAPI, past president of AAPI-QLI, and a close friend of Dr. Lodha joined in thepraise. “Dr. Ajay Lodha was a dynamic, enthusiastic, and visionary leader with endless energy, who always strives for excellence. Under his leadership, AAPI Convention and Global Healthcare Summit had a touch of brilliance, helping create life long memories to cherish. He made our organizations vibrant, strong and politically powerful and provided significant gains.”

In his honor, AAPI is creating the Lodha Distinguished Service Award through “GOFUNDME” and is seeking donations to help make an impact and to educate members of the medical profession on current activities and new products in the medical field, the press release said.For more details, visit: www.aapiusa.org. Donation Link: https://events.aapiusa.org/memorial-fund/

A funeral service was scheduled for Tuesday Nov. 24, 2020, from 10am-12pm EST. To comply with COVID-19 restrictions the service was to be limited to family only. However, the family planned to live stream the event for all to attend. The live stream was scheduled to begin at 10am and could be watched on https://www.youtube.com/user/vaahophoto

Anyone wanting to post tributes, photos, videos of their own can do so on a website created in Dr. Lodha’s memory at http://ajaylodha.family/

 

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