When a 21-year-old student arrived at UNF’s Student Health Center last spring complaining of chest pains, Center Director Dr. Fred Beck and Mayo Clinic resident Dr. Alex Waite knew they were equipped to handle the situation.
Instead of having to refer the student to another facility for an X-ray, they were able to diagnose the problem on site because of equipment donated by the Florida Radiation Oncology Group, also known as FROG.
The UNF medical team determined from the X-ray that the student was suffering from a collapsed lung. Fortunately, the problem resolved itself spontaneously, Beck said. However, because of the X-ray results, Beck said they were able to rule out other potential causes of chest pain and also save the student from the additional anxiety and substantial expense a referral elsewhere would have created.
Beck said the donated X-ray equipment, valued at slightly more than $100,000, has been an invaluable tool for Student Health Services. He said it also comes in handy for suspected cases of pneumonia or determining the extent of injured extremities when fractures are suspected.
The Florida Radiation Oncology Group is headed by Dr. Shyam Paryani, who has a long involvement with UNF, especially with the Brooks College of Health where he serves on the Dean’s Council. In 2007, the University honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.
Paryani’s achievements began before he enrolled at UNF. He was already an accomplished medical doctor when he decided to enter the Brooks College of Health’s Master of Health Administration program. He said the training he received at UNF made it possible to greatly expand the number of cancer patients he helps each year.
A native of India, Paryani came to Jacksonville with his father at the age of 11 and graduated from the University of Florida Medical School in 1979. After additional training in radiation therapy, he returned to Jacksonville to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was also a radiation oncologist.
As the practice grew, Paryani said he needed more than his medical training to succeed, and that’s where UNF came in. He received his master’s degree in 2002. Today Paryani’s group is one of the region’s largest such medical organizations, with offices in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Palatka, Orange Park, Gainesville, Lake City, Tallahassee and Orlando.
“The donation of the equipment was in a small way my effort to give back to the college,” he said.
Dr. Pam Chally, dean of the Brooks College of Health, was instrumental in the donation. She advised Paryani of the need for the equipment when Student Health Services moved into the new wing of Brooks Hall.
“Since our main area of clinical expertise is radiology, this was a natural fit,” Paryani said, noting he was glad to be able to enhance the learning environment.
“UNF is an undervalued treasure. There may be bigger schools that get more attention, but UNF is one of our most valuable community resources,” he said.