Wednesday, April 3, 2013 12:00 AM

Gift encourages caregivers for Community's tiniest patients

Neonatologist Krishnakumar Rajani is known for his big heart, warm smile and words of encouragement to anxious parents with critically ill newborns. Now he’s extending his generous nature further to encourage staff at Community Medical Centers’ neonatal intensive care units.

Through the Rajani Family NICU Education Advancement Scholarship, he hopes to encourage Community’s nurses and staff to pursue advanced education and leadership roles in the NICU in order to deliver the highest care possible for infants with complex critical needs. While he specifically wants to give back to the staff he works with closely as the medical director of Community Regional Medical Center's Level III NICU, the scholarships are also available to NICU staff at Clovis Community Medical Center and nurses who want to specialize in neonatal intensive care. Dr. Rajani will be offering up to three scholarships a year.

“We’re grateful to Dr. Rajani for investing back in the staff he works with every day,” said Karen Buckley, chief nursing officer for Community Regional. “And we’re excited to have this opportunity to encourage our NICU nurses to pursue advanced education so we can enhance the high-level care we provide to our tiniest patients. This scholarship program helps us retain and recruit the best and brightest nurses in a specialty that is difficult to fill nationally.”

About 60% of all Fresno County babies are born at Community Regional and Clovis Community. And because of high poverty rates and other complicating factors, Community also has more underweight and premature babies than most hospitals around the state. As the high risk birthing center for the Valley, Community Regional delivers the most under-3 lbs babies in the state, according to the most recent data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development.

Even more than seeing his patients leave the hospital, Dr. Rajani delights in running into former patients. Most recently a 23-year-old emergency medical technician thanked Dr. Rajani for helping save her life after she was born premature weighing only 2 lbs. She’s now transporting Dr. Rajani’s newest patients to Community hospitals from hospitals in surrounding counties as part of her job.

Dr. Rajani is modest about his accomplishments and his latest gift, “I would remind people of Winston Churchill who said ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ I think Community Medical Centers is doing a great job of living to its mission.”

Erin Kennedy reported this story. She can be reached at