A third-year resident who developed innovative ways to reach patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and helped establish a program to bring needed medical care to the community’s growing homeless population has been awarded the 2021 Michigan Family Medicine Resident of the Year Award.
"Dr. Sravani Alluri is a leader and an innovator who has a passion for public health and community outreach," Dr. Susan Jevert-Eichorn, an assistant professor in the medical school’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, said in a letter nominating Dr. Alluri for the award.
Each year, the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors bestows the honor to a resident who exhibits exemplary patient care, leadership, commitment to the community, contributions to scholarly activity and dedication to the specialty of family medicine.
“Her single-minded purpose to address health disparities fuels passion and energy to overcome barriers and fuels ongoing projects,” Dr. Jevert-Eichorn said in Dr. Alluri’s nominating letter.
Dr. Alluri received her medical degree from Kasturba Medical College of Manipal in India. She completed a research fellowship in Disaster Medicine at Harvard Medical School and earned a master’s degree in Healthcare Emergency Management from Anna Maria College. This month, Dr. Alluri finished her Family Medicine residency at WMed.
In her three years at WMed, Dr. Alluri piloted a program to see patients for hospital follow-up visits using telemedicine, improving the program’s no-show rate. She developed handouts for patient education on COVID-19 that was adapted and used across the institution and helped develop a program for home visits for patients who are at the highest risk for complications for COVID-19. In addition, Dr. Alluri has started two research projects to screen for social determinants of health and poverty, and she was instrumental in the launch of the Street Medicine Kalamazoo interest group that provides medical care to Kalamazoo’s homeless population directly to them in the field.
Dr. Alluri continues to work on establishing on a physician-led disaster response organization that would help communities prepare for disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes. The organization would send physicians in person or via telemedicine to help struggling communities.
Dr. Alluri said her passion stems from seeing her family give freely with the resources they had. In India, her grandfather, a physics professor, gave free lessons to children who were unable to pay but wanted to go to college. She said she saw her parents help others in need despite any hardships they were enduring.
“My mom always told me with whatever skills you acquire you should try to help the people who really need it,” Dr. Alluri said.
Dr. Alluri can see in all people human beings that deserve care and compassion, said Dr. Kristi VanDerKolk, program director for the medical school’s Family Medicine Residency in Kalamazoo. She doesn’t do anything for accolades or fanfare, but rather because she cares.
“She really embodies the selflessness and compassion and almost blindness of what we try to teach doctors to be,” Dr. VanDerKolk said. “I think it’s really hard sometimes to look past the human that’s in front of you to see the human underneath them, and that’s what she’s good at.”
Dr. Alluri will receive her award July 24 during the virtual Michigan Academy of Family Physicians Annual Meeting. Going forward, Dr. Alluri said she plans to stay in Kalamazoo and continue to serve in a leadership role for the Street Medicine group. Dr. Alluri said she knew she had been nominated for the award but was surprised to hear she had won.
"I feel honored to have been selected for this award," Dr. Alluri said. "It's really encouraging in terms of all the things I was trying to do and trying to start up. It's given me a little bit more motivation to keep working in that direction."
Dr. Alluri goes to the people who need her and is organizing the disaster call list to help mobilize people who may be able to help in the future. She epitomizes the unique aspect of family medicine physicians who can service all facets of the population, said Dr. Mary Marshall, president of the Family Medicine Foundation of Michigan.
“What Dr. Alluri is doing is focusing on public health again, the basis of what we need in this country to keep our population safe,” Dr. Marshall said. “If our street population isn’t safe, that affects all the other people who come into contact with them. That type of foresightedness is what’s going to get us out of this pandemic and keep us out of another pandemic.”