When neonatologist Parul Zaveri, MD moved to Memphis in 2016 to work in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Regional One Health, she faced the challenges of many young professionals: meeting like-minded friends, finding good childcare, getting the scoop on which restaurants are worth trying.
Dr. Zaveri not only found a way to meet those needs, she turned it into a way to help others. She helped form a group for female physicians from the South Asian nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. After a recent “Galentine’s Day” gathering, they donated $1,200 they collected to the Sheldon B. Korones Newborn Center, Regional One Health’s NICU.
“The intention was to socialize and meet other women physicians from a similar background,” Dr. Zaveri said. “We have a lot in common – culture, upbringing, family values, even our food!”
They also share similar challenges. “Being a woman physician is not that easy,” laughed Dr. Zaveri, who is also mom to an 11- and 5-year-old. “It’s even more than a full-time profession, and on top of that we balance the kids, the house, the cooking. Sometimes we feel like we have to be Superwoman, and that’s where you need to reach out to others.”
With many of the women coming from other countries – Dr. Zaveri moved to America from India 10 years ago – they don’t have family nearby to help shoulder the load. And many, like Dr. Zaveri, are married to fellow doctors who also work long hours, overnights, weekends, etc.
As the women helped each other with those challenges, the group grew. Pretty soon, questions like, “Does anyone know a good babysitter?” gave way to, “How can we help others?”
“We decided to try to add some substance and meaning to having a great time,” Dr. Zaveri said.
They were already hosting several events each year attended by around 75 physicians, so they asked each woman to bring a donation. For their first donation, Regional One Health’s NICU Fund was an easy choice: “I know how much those donations mean for our babies,” Dr. Zaveri said. “We have 45 to 50 babies here at any time, so there is always a need for resources.”
Allen Horton, Regional One Health Foundation Development Officer, said their donation will go into the NICU Fund. Then, when a member of the department makes a request, money will be allocated with review and approval from the Foundation’s Board of Directors, which supports projects, training, equipment, etc. that align with the mission of Regional One Health.
Recent NICU efforts include Giraffe Omni Beds used to transport babies and camera systems that let family members view their baby around the clock from a laptop, tablet or smart phone.
Horton said it speaks volumes when Regional One Health team members like Dr. Zaveri go out of their way to benefit the healthcare system.
“Our staff have moments that are rewarding, challenging, heartbreaking, gleeful – all in a matter of hours. To still feel called to go above and beyond their duties is a testament to the great people who serve this community through Regional One Health,” he said. “It truly speaks to the value our team members place on the mission of the organization. It’s not just a place where they work, it’s a place they truly believe in.”
Horton said there are many ways for staff to give back, including payroll deduction, and last year employees gave a record $205,000 to projects such as the ONE Health complex care initiative, Center for Innovation, system Centers of Excellence, pastoral care, employee emergency relief, the nursing fund, sickle cell services and Adult Special Care, diabetes care and scholarships.
Dr. Zaveri’s group plans to hold a couple “parties with a purpose” each year, and they’re working on selecting organizations to support. They also continue to welcome new members and are happy to accept sponsorships, as that helps them stretch their charity dollars further.
Along with that, they’re simply having a great time. “It’s a chance to unwind. We’re like one big family,” Dr. Zaveri said. “I never imagined it would become so big – or be so much fun!”
It is, indeed, a win-win, Horton said. “This group of amazing women not only provide for their patients, they provide for each other and provide back to the hospital,” he said. “It’s incredible to see that level of love and support.”