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A community star

WC physician recognized on National Rural Health Day

Dr. Subhash Sahai

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health sets aside the third Thursday of every November – this year, Nov. 19, 2020 – to celebrate National Rural Health Day.

This is a day to celebrate the power of rural while recognizing the unique healthcare challenges that rural communities face.

As part of that observance, the Community Star recognition program celebrates people and organizations that work to improve the lives of those who live in the rural America.

Each state selects a Community Star from the many nominations submitted.

This year, Dr. Subhash Sahai of Webster City, was selected as Iowa’s Community Star.

— Daily Freeman-Journal file photo by Anne Blankenship Dr. Subhash Sahai, of Webster City, left. was named a Community Star by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health in honor of National Rural Health Day today. He is pictured with his mother Urmila Sahai, Van Diest Medical Center CEO Lisa Ridge, his wife Dr. Sushma Sahai and his sister-in-law, Nutan Sahai at a ceremony honoring him in 2018 as an Iowa Hospital Association Hospital Hero in 2018.

“I was quite surprised and honored to learn of this recognition,” Sahai said.

Sahai was nominated by officials at Van Diest Medical Center, who said, “The unique shining qualities of Dr. Subhash Sahai which make him a Community Star include being extremely progressive, embracing and offering innovative ideas to care for patients in the rural health care setting. Dr. Subhash has spearheaded multiple new service line offerings within our hospital and clinics over the years and especially in the most recent two years.”

The nomination went on to talk of Sahai’s impact on health care throughout Iowa.

“Knowing the importance of having quality, accessible health care in rural Iowa has been a motivator throughout his career. His impact on health care in the state of Iowa goes well beyond our medical center however; he is distinguished across the state, having worked with hundreds of medical colleagues, served as a member of the Iowa Board of Regents and contributed in multiple significant ways to improve the health and wellness of our community and several others throughout Iowa.”

VDMC Chief Executive Officer Lisa Ridge said Sahai is very deserving of the honor.

“His compassion and care for his patients coupled with his years of service make him our community star,” she said. “His love for those around him is evident in his everyday actions and I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to watch him in action. As a community, we are truly blessed.”

A welcoming community

Sahai said he didn’t initially choose to practice in a small town, but came to Webster City because of his family. He thought he might stay for a year or two.

“But after two years, I found out that this is where I was going to find satisfaction in my practice. I was going to be part of this community and the people welcomed me.

“And here I am 47 years later and still part of this community,” Sahai said.

Sahai opened his practice in 1976, sharing office space with Dr. E.F. Brown on Ohio Street. His wife, Dr. Sushma Sahai, joined him in the practice a year later and his brother, Dr. Anil Sahai, joined them six years later.

It soon became evident that the space at the clinic would not be large enough to accommodate his growing practice.

The Sahais built the Webster City Medical Clinic on Collins Street.

“So we were then able to provide not only family practice and pediatrics, but also internal medicine, and so many other services,” he said.

The clinic operated at the Collins Street location until 2016 when the medical practice joined the Van Diest Family Health Clinic team to become one comprehensive, primary care practice serving Hamilton County.

Sahai said working in a rural setting offers physicians a challenging but satisfying practice, serving patients from many walks of life, from the very young to the elderly.

“It’s demanding, of course, but it has many rewards. If you’re going to practice in primary care, then a rural community is the way to go,” he said.

As medicine has evolved and changed, so to has it fragmented and created specialty care practices.

“That has added to the quality of care. But also has taken away from the quality of care in other ways,” he said, adding that through the years, his primary care practice has allowed him to really get to know his patients and their families.

The physician said he hoped that doctors coming out of medical school and finishing their residencies will consider rural communities for primary care practices.

“It’s been quite an enjoyable experience for me practicing in Webster City,” he said.

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