St. Mary’s Dr. Rao honored by Montgomery County

Montgomery County Public Health employee Wanda Antos, center, reads a statement on the achievements of Dr. Govind Rao, to the left of Antos. On the right is District 6 Legislator John Duchessi and Jyothi Rao. To the left of Dr. Rao is Chairman Robert Headwell. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

FONDA — Dr. Govind Rao, medical director for Montgomery County Public Health Department and pediatrician of St. Mary’s Healthcare, was recognized at the Legislature’s meeting Tuesday where he received a proclamation that highlighted his many major accomplishments as a doctor and community member.

District 6 Legislator John Duchessi read the proclamation.

“Dr. Rao is known for his knowledge and professionalism of overseeing standard orders of public health protocol for the county,” Duchessi stated from the proclamation. “Dr. Rao leads the largest pediatric practice in Montgomery County and goes above and beyond to treat patients and help families in our community.”

Rao also has a passion for assisting the Amish community. He has vaccinated over 100 Amish individuals, does annual visits and bonds with the students in the Amish schools.

“Another one of his passions [was to enact] a bill that was introduced to the Senate in 2014 that will screen all teens ages 12 to 18 for illegal drug use during annual physicals,” Duchessi stated. “Dr. Rao is a true friend who is humble and kind whereas he truly does whatever it takes to assist building a healthy community.”

Since the bill was first introduced in 2014, it has yet to be passed. The bill will also require health insurance agencies to pay for the drug testing. With the bill, Rao wants to be able to detect drug addiction at early ages. He said one third of children on painkillers are likely to develop an addiction.

“Drug addiction has no race, color, economic status or education status,” Rao said.

Rao has served as the medical director for the health department since 2007. He first moved to the United States from India in 1964 after graduating from Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College, Indore University in 1962. It was in 1972 when Rao moved to Amsterdam with his wife, Jyothi Rao.

Together they had four children. Three went on to become doctors and one, Neena Rao, tragically died in an accident in New York City.

“They used the tragic event in their lives to enhance the lives of many in the community,” said public health employee Wanda Antos. “They used the money they saved up for her college fund and turned it into a non-profit organization, Neena Charitable Corporation. The goal of the corporation is to improve health care and education in children and women in the U.S. and India.”

Through this corporation, Rao and his family donated millions to local hospital, organizations, individuals and has helped thousands of homeless in India.

Rao said his eldest son is a neurologist in Richmond, Virginia; his second son is in sports medicine; and his eldest daughter is also a pediatrician.

“I think I learned from her a lot,” Rao said.

Rao has had many other achievements including a voluntary drug program for Amsterdam High School and middle school, sponsoring the YMCA summer camp, has the Neena play area at St. Mary’s school, provides meals for the Meals on Wheels program and many more achievements.

“Thank you, Dr. Rao for all that you do,” Antos said. “Not only for us at public health, but for everyone in Montgomery County.”

By Patricia Older

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