Doctor receives national honor for tobacco prevention
Rolling Meadows family physician Dr. Arvind Goyal wouldn't dream of wearing a Superman-type "S" on his lab coat.
He goes about his daily business seeing patients at a small office tucked away on Algonquin Road, jetting off to fulfill his staff duties at Northwest Community Hospital and spreading the word about the benefits of preventive medicine as chairman of the city's tobacco prevention committee.
He's busy, but he's no Superman, Goyal insists.
The Pfizer drug company and the American Medical Association disagree.
They named Goyal among a select group of 57 doctors nationwide to receive a 2001 Pride in the Profession Award. They presented him with the honor Friday.
"The Pride in the Profession Awards recognize physicians whose actions have overcome the challenges of today's changing health care climate and brought healing and hope to people of all ages from all walks of life service," said American Medical Association President Randolph D. Smoak Jr.
The city of Rolling Meadows nominated Goyal for the award, calling him a hero of American medicine.
Patients at his office Friday didn't know about the recognition. Mary Ellen Peterson of Deer Park has been seeing Goyal 11/2 years just because "he's a great doctor," she said.
Goyal has been a physician for 31 years and has practiced in Rolling Meadows for 22 years.
As chairman of the city's Tobacco Information Prevention Program, he helped lead the charge in 1997 to ban cigarette vending machines in most public places in Rolling Meadows and helped begin work on an elementary-school curriculum aimed at teaching young kids the dangers of cigarette smoking.
Recently, he took a chance on developing a program to use donated nicotine-replacement patches to help students at an alternative school in Northwest Suburban High School District 214 quit smoking. The school is still considering the legal implications of the program.
"Medicine does not work in a vacuum," Goyal said, explaining his community activism.
"Many diseases first of all are preventable by good measures that can be implemented before a disease strikes," he said. "That goes for accidents, unintentional injuries and that includes gun violence, cigarette smoking, drug use and whatnot that includes lifestyle and exercise."
Rather than focusing on his award, Goyal asserted it would be a "wasted effort" not to let his recognition serve as a way to inform people about the importance of a low-stress environment on their health.
Goyal is not the only family doctor in the area who works in the community and tries to give the best to the city, community and families, he said.
"I'm sure there are many, many other so-called heroes in medicine, and I have role models that I have tried to follow," Goyal said.
The doctor might not realize what a role model he is for others, said Rolling Meadows Mayor Thomas F. Menzel, who nominated Goyal for the award.
"I think it is extremely important to recognize people for their time, because it's not only saying thank you," Menzel said, "but it's also giving us a model of community service to emulate, especially for our young people."
Any awards that come along are not as important as the work doctors do, Goyal said.