Dr. Sreedhar Nair, a long time resident of Norwalk, Connecticut and Longboat Key, Florida died on March 3, 2014 after bravely suffering from a long battle with heart disease. For over 24 years, he served as Head of the Section of Pulmonary Medicine and Critical Care at the Norwalk Hospital and for many years as Clinical Professor of Medicine at Yale University, where he was responsible for establishment of the Boehringer Ingelheim Endowed Chair in Pulmonary Medicine. Over the course of his career, Dr. Nair treated thousands of patients and helped advance the practice of pulmonary and critical care medicine on a national and international level.
He was born in 1928 in Trivandrum, India, and he received his medical degree at the age of 22 from the University of Madras, in India. Uncommon at the time, he came to the United States in 1951 for his medical residency and fellowship training at the New York Medical College, Metropolitan Hospital. After completing his training, he served as an Eli Lilly Research Fellow and was a co-discoverer of Cycloserine, an anti-tuberculosis drug, which is still used today for drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Dr. Nair was one of the first physicians who was board certified in pulmonary medicine and it was as a clinician that he flourished. In 1958, he came to Norwalk and began a distinguished career for practicing pulmonary and critical care medicine in the community and at the Norwalk Hospital. He established the Norwalk Medical Group with four other physicians in 1962. Well-known as an astute and respected diagnostician and for his deeply philosophical approach to life, Dr. Nair was adored and respected by the many patients whom he treated.
A man of ideas, he introduced state of the art techniques and cutting-edge strategies to Norwalk Hospital in order to better serve the community. He led the development of its Critical Care Unit, which continues to enjoy an outstanding reputation to this day, and he under his leadership the Pulmonary Section of Norwalk Hospital flourished with the creation of several of its modern facilities, including the Hyperbaric Center, the Hinds Pulmonary Function Lab, the Sleep Center, and the Hinds Research Center. He also created the Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship programs at Norwalk Hospital, whose many graduates have gone on to successful careers. He started one of the nation's first schools of respiratory therapy, which is affiliated with Norwalk Community College.
Dr. Nair, a true leader in the use of computers in the medical field, was of the era when Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine was in its infancy. He was among the group of the original and pioneering physicians who developed the field of critical care. Many of his colleagues went on to national and international renown. His deep spirituality and philosophical nature added a special dimension to his relationships with family, friends and all who knew him.
In the early 1970s, emphysema was a disease not well known to the public, nor was there any national program to combat it. Concerned for the millions of patients suffering from this illness, and assisted by the Beulah Hinds Foundation, Dr. Nair founded the National Emphysema Foundation (NEF) in 1971. He served as its President until now. Under his leadership, the NEF has played a key role in increasing public awareness of the disease by supporting educational, advocacy and research initiatives, and, through these efforts, in improving the quality of life for patients with emphysema and their caregivers.
Dr. Nair was an innovator in the practice of pulmonary and critical care medicine, and implemented improved technologies before they became common practice nationally. Dr. Nair organized and served on many national and international panels related to pulmonary medicine and to health policy. He was a founding member and past Chairman of the International Society for Computers in Critical Care and Pulmonary Medicine. He was a consultant to the World Health Organization for many years and had helped to improve the health of people in emerging nations through the use of improved technologies.
Dr. Nair was the recipient of many awards, including the Humanitarian Award of the American Lung Association, the William Tracey Award of the Norwalk Hospital, and the World Lung Health Award of the American Thoracic Society. He was the editor of five books and published over 70 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals.
He was the son of the late Dr. and Mrs. M.K. Gopala Pillai of Trivandrum, India. He leaves a loving family including his wife of 59 years, Dr. Rhoda Nair, three children Dr. Laurence Nair of Hamden, Ronald A. Nair, Esq. of Wilton, Karyn Bhak of Manhattan, five beloved grandchildren, a brother, Dr. Kesav Nair of Wilton, a brother-in-law, Mel Senator of Norwalk, sisters-in-law, Dr. Saras Nair and Rochelle Senator, a daughter-in-law Sarita Reddy, a son-in-law Andrew Bhak, and as well as two sisters and a brother in India and devoted nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, please donate preferably to The National Emphysema Foundation, 128 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851 or to Norwalk Hospital Pulmonary Section.