Medicine runs in the family of Dr. Vijay Shah, a longtime physician on Long Island who died last month at age 60.
Shah’s father was a physician in Kenya. His son, Neil Vijay Shah of Manhattan, is a resident physician who is training in surgery at a hospital in Brooklyn, and his daughter, Shivani V. Shah, is in her final year of dental school in Boston.
Vijay Shah died Jan. 10 of natural causes in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was traveling with friends on a golf trip; he did not wake up at his hotel, according to Neil Shah.
For nearly 30 years, Shah worked in medicine on Long Island: first at Nassau University Medical Center; then at St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage; and at Syosset and Plainview hospitals, both owned by the region’s largest health care provider, Northwell Health.
Among Shah’s latest duties, as head of infectious-disease control at Plainview and Syosset, were helping to curb overuse of antibiotics and to prevent the spread of infections to patients within the hospital, according to Dr. Alan Mensch, a Northwell senior vice president for medical affairs who first met Shah in 1995.
Shah also was chief of infectious diseases at St. Joseph.
"In my 30 years of experience, I know of no other doctor who's the chief of infectious disease at three separate hospitals," said Dr. Randolph DiLorenzo, Syosset Hospital's medical director who first met Shah in 1991.
Hospital-acquired infections are among the leading causes of death in the United States and are responsible for between $28 billion and $33 billion in potentially preventable health care costs every year, according to the federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. And around the world, the overuse of antibiotics has speeded up microbes’ resistance, causing longer hospital stays and more death. There are more than 2.8 million infections each year in the United States that are resistant to antibiotics, from which more than 35,000 people die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Under Shah’s stewardship, antibiotic use at Plainview Hospital has decreased by a third, Mensch said. He declined to provide more specifics about the decline.
Vijaykumar Ratilal Shah, who was Hindu, was born Nov. 17, 1959, at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. He was the middle child of Ratilal N. Shah, a naturopathic physician, and Nirmalaben Ratilal Shah, a homemaker.
Vijay Shah was raised in Ahmedabad, the largest city in the Indian state of Gujarat, in the western part of the country, near Pakistan. He attended Baroda Medical College and, in 1986, immigrated to the United States — to Brooklyn — for his medical residency.
Shah did his residency in the Bushwick neighborhood, at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, from 1988 to 1991, and a fellowship at Nassau University Medical Center from 1991 to 1993. He was at Syosset Hospital beginning in 1991, and Plainview beginning in 1997, serving both until his death, according to Northwell spokeswoman Jennifer Graff. She said he was board certified in both infectious disease and internal medicine.
He moved to Long Island in 1991, living in Glen Cove, Jericho and most recently, Brookville.
He is survived by his wife of 33½ years, Trupti V. Shah. Their marriage was arranged, but the two knew each other beforehand, Neil Shah said.
He also is survived by his mother, Nirmalaben Ratilal Shah of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and his sisters Daksha Shah of South Harrow, England, and Reshma M. Shah of Ponte Vedra Beach.
Shah’s funeral was held Jan. 13 at Moloney's Lake Funeral Home & Cremation Center in Lake Ronkonkoma, with religious rites that included cremation.