Earlier this year in February, Paradise Valley Hospital physician Harish
Hosalkar embarked on a medical mission and education trip to his country
of origin, India, to the southern city of Coimbatore in the state of Tamilnadu.
Dr. Hosalkar (popularly known as “Dr. H”) has been undertaking
medical mission trips for several years now. On this trip, he provided
direct patient care, but he also took this as an opportunity to share
his expertise with the physicians in the places he visited. In addition
to providing free consultations to several patients, he conducted complex
reconstructive surgeries while training the surgeons and delivered a series
of lectures during their long working days.
Dr. Hosalkar is a decorated nationally- and internationally-acclaimed,
board certified orthopedic surgeon with affiliation to Paradise Valley
Hospital’s San Diego Spine & Joint Center who specializes in
cutting-edge techniques in joint preservation and reconstruction. He also
specializes in traumatology including fracture care, neuro-muscular orthopedics
including the treatment of traumatic brain injury and spasticity, limb-lengthening
and deformity correction, bone tumors and children’s orthopedics.
At least once a year he conducts medical missions abroad. “My philosophy
about medical missions can be summed up as, ‘Caring, Sharing, Educating
and Learning,’” says Dr. Hosalkar. “A medical mission
shouldn’t just be strictly about patient care. We also want to train
the physicians there to provide better care for their own people, and
help them make the most out of the circumstances they’re in with
the tools, technology, and resources they have.” Over a period of
a few years, Dr. Hosalkar helped found the first joint preservation center
in India at the Ganga Hospital in Coimbatore, and he has taken the time
to help train fellow surgeons there in advanced surgical techniques and
state-of-the-art technologies that are used in the United States, with
the hope that they can adapt these skills to their environments back home.
Physicians from Coimbatore recently came to visit Dr. Hosalkar’s
practice and Paradise Valley Hospital back in December of 2016 as part
of their training curriculum with Dr. Hosalkar.
Shortly after returning to San Diego in February, Dr. Hosalkar embarked
on yet another mission and education trip the following month to northern
India at Jaipur, the “Pink City.” In addition to seeing several
patients, Dr. Hosalkar addressed the inaugural meeting of the Association
of Pelvic and Acetabular Surgeons of India (APAS) as the keynote speaker.
There, Dr Hosalkar took part in the education of over 400 other surgeons
in attendance by demonstrating for them the latest techniques in joint
preservation. Although he has a thriving practice in the United States,
Dr. Hosalkar kept active his license to practice medicine in India.
It’s hoped that the seeds planted there by Dr. Hosalkar and Paradise
Valley Hospital will bear fruit and result in better quality care for
the people in those communities, and possible future collaborations between
those physicians and Paradise Valley. “The physicians there are
very intelligent and capable. And because they may not have all of the
resources that we enjoy here in the States, they have to be extra resourceful
as well. It’s my hope that going there and sharing with them some
of the techniques that we use back in the US, they will find ways to adapt
those techniques to their situations and needs, and come up with innovative
translations of those techniques,” says Dr Hosalkar. “My medical
mission experiences have undoubtedly had a dramatic effect on my life,
and I consider myself to be extremely blessed. The gratification and rewards
I receive can be overwhelming and it becomes difficult for me to describe!
I plan to contribute towards these missions in whatever ways are possible.
I firmly believe that the true measure of greatness for any human being,
society or country is how well they reach out to and care for the less
“If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a
single meal pass without sharing it in some way.”
(The “San Diego Union Tribune” published a wonderful story
on Dr. Hosalkar and his mission work here:
An hour into his flight back home to the US from Dubai after his first
mission trip in February, Dr. Hosalkar knew that this would not be the
typically un-eventful flight he was used to. There was a request made
on the over-head PA system, “If there is any medical physician on
board, we request your assistance.” Dr. Hosalkar hoped that on this
flight of over 350 passengers that there would be another physician on
board, an internist perhaps, who would be able to help. After a grueling
medical mission trip in India, he was looking forward to resting on the
long flight back to the United States. But when a second request was announced
overhead, he decided that he better respond. “I’m a doctor,”
he told the nearest attendant. “An orthopedist. What’s the
problem?” There was a woman in first class who was presenting symptoms
of myocardial ischemia or infarction: acute onset chest pain, shortness
of breath, sweating and tachycardia. Right away Dr. Hosalkar moved to
reassure and calm the woman and stabilize her condition as much as he
could. He lowered the back of her seat to place her in a supine position,
loosened her clothing, took her vital signs and immediately went through
her medication bag to see if she had any medications that would help her
in this situation. As he had hoped, the woman carried aspirin, so he immediately
had her ingest a dose. He started her on oxygen right away and gave her
blood pressure medications after he noted that her blood pressure was
high. He kept her without food or drinks for the duration of the flight.
Immediately her symptoms began to stabilize and she started feeling better.
The Emirates Air flight was equipped with an on-board EKG and pulse oximeter,
but their satellite telephone was inoperative, so Dr. Hosalkar was unable
to speak with any other cardiologist or internist or relay her vital signs
and EKG to a healthcare facility. He decided to stay at her side and monitor
her condition for the nine or so hours left on the flight, and she remained
stable throughout the duration. As soon as they landed in United States,
paramedics arrived and loaded her on a stretcher and took her to the nearest
hospital, still alive and stable.
“I didn’t do much,” explained Dr. Hosalkar. “Honestly,
it was the aspirin that did the trick, and a little bit of luck and destiny
I guess.” But it’s probably safe to say that the woman whom
he helped was certainly glad he was there. And Emirates Air was thankful.
They sent him a gracious letter, along with photos of himself with the
flight crew, and a beautiful scale model of the airplane.