Internal Medicine Physician Plays Key Role in UH COVID-19 Surge Plan
January 12, 2023
UH Clinical Update | January 2023
Harigopal (Hari) Balaji, MD is a recent “Dinner with the Doc” honoree for his steadfast commitment to doing what is right for patients and the community.
Dr. Balaji, a specialist in Internal Medicine, has cared for patients in his outpatient office near the UH Richmond campus for more than two decades, and also provides care for the patients in his practice when they are hospitalized.
Just over a year ago, in October 2021, UH Richmond Medical Center was part of the UH COVID-19 surge plan. As part of that plan, some inpatient medical care teams were moved to other medical center sites. The number of inpatient beds at UH Richmond was decreased and support services were adjusted to accommodate staffing challenges.
Dr. Balaji, who was then a physician at UH Richmond, agreed to continue to care for hospitalized patients at that medical center – not only patients from his practice but ALL hospitalized patients. During that time, with the exception of perhaps two or three weeks, Dr. Balaji was the sole inpatient physician, covering admitted patients 24/7.
Despite carrying that extraordinary load, he remained reliable and responsive, says Marlea Miano, MD, the former Chief Medical Officer of UH Richmond, who is now CMO of UH Geauga Medical Center and Medical Director of UH Home Care.
“He partnered with hospital leadership to work through challenges in staffing and volume, helping to keep patients in the community,” she said when she nominated him for this award. “And he has loyally served the community for 22 years through his internal medicine practice.”
Dr. Balaji is modest about that time and its intensity at UH Richmond, and credits the care teams with whom he worked for making those months easier.
“I was committed to the hospital and to the community, and I still am,” he says. “After so many years, you feel that this is all part of your family. And I’ve sometimes treated three generations of one family.”
His practice is still in Richmond Heights though he now treats patients at UH Lake West Medical Center, since UH Richmond has become an ambulatory medical center. And his patients have come along with him because of their loyalty to UH.
Dr. Balaji has more than 34 years of experience in medicine. He graduated from the Stanley Medical College in Madras, India and did residencies in Internal Medicine at Coimbatore Medical College in Chennai, and at St. Vincent Charity Hospital/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Cleveland.
Congratulations to Dr. Balaji on his “Dinner with the Doc” honor.
To nominate a physician for this honor, please visit the Digital Workplace. The next deadline is March 31.
Tags: Dinner with the Doc, COVID-19