2018 Nominees Section
Position: Senior Medical Director
Organization: Vitas Healthcare
What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Dr. Chalat Rajaram, MD, CMD, HMDC, FACP, FAAHPM, is the Senior Medical Director for Vitas Healthcare. He has worked for Vitas Healthcare since 2006, first as a team physician and then as the Medical Director starting in 2008. Originally from Calicut, India, Dr. Rajaram started his medical profession in India with a passion for Orthopedics. While in England working on fellowship at the Royal College of Surgeons, Dr. Rajaram was introduced to his future wife Uma, who was a graduate student at Kent State. While his original plan when he moved to England was to return to India after his fellowship, love changed his direction both geographically and professionally. Dr. Rajaram moved to the United States to settle down with Uma and started an Internal Medicine residency.
Prior to his move to Vitas Healthcare, Dr. Rajaram worked as an Internal Medicine physician in various settings, including as the Medical Director of the Sacramento PACE program and private practice here in Orange County. While at PACE and in private practice, Dr. Rajaram had a large population of frail elderly patients, and end-of-life care became a large focus of his practice. Vitas was the natural fit for Dr. Rajaram; he stated that he loved working in hospice from the start when he joined the team. Not only is he the Senior Medical Director for Vitas Healthcare, but he is also a Medical Director for Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Newport Bay Hospital.
As the Vitas Orange County Senior Medical Director, Dr. Rajaram oversees the team physicians for the eight teams that cover the county and provides guidance and clinical education for all staff. His extensive experience at Newport Bay Hospital gives him insight in helping the clinical teams manage patients’ behaviors and as a Certified Medical Director at Nursing Facilities, his knowledge of facility policies and procedures and state licensure requirements helps the hospice teams’ compliance and coordination with their SNF partners. Additionally, Dr. Rajaram is the Voluntary Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCI and the External Faculty Director at UCI for Hospice and Palliative Care Training. He spends countless hours prepping for and educating the Palliative Care Fellows from UCI. Dr. Rajaram has won numerous Physician of the Year awards throughout the years from FHP, PACE, Newport Nursing, and Vitas; he was also recognized in Vitas Leadership Council.
Why should this person be nominated
Dr. Rajaram is Vitas’s rock star! He is known throughout the senior healthcare community; when he walks into a senior community or facility, he is always greeted with hugs and excitement. People respond to his sincerity, softspokenness, humility, and kindness. He loves writing poetry for the Vitas staff and he is always the first one to sign up for the monthly in-office meditation class. Always humble, when interviewed about his work and achievements, after answering the questions, he ended the conversation with this focus: “The two most important things are love and gratitude. GRATITUDE. Gratitude for patients and families for allowing us to provide care at the end of life. Gratitude for the physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers, hospice aides and office/field staff who make a difference every day by providing quality end of life care. Gratitude for senior management colleagues for having vision, patience, and wisdom to take us further. LOVE. I get so much love from everyone in the organization to help me be grounded and to receive their kindness. Same as the love that I can offer when I find a colleague who is struggling and in need of a kind word. There is so much love and gratitude in us, and around us, to ground us.” From the Vitas Staff: Dr. Rajaram, we love you and are so grateful for you in our lives!