50 Making a Difference Profile: Umi Kaur Chahal, Choice Home Health/ Hospice in OKC

Article excerpt

Umi Chahal knew she wanted a career in the health care industry since she was a young girl growing up in India.

After earning her bachelor's and master's degrees in nutrition and dietetics at Delhi University's Lady Irwin College, the then 22- year-old Chahal came to the United States in search of the "American Dream."

Chahal began her career working in various clinical and management positions in New York before moving to Oklahoma in 1984. She worked as a clinical dietitian at St. Mary's Hospital in Enid while earning her master's in business administration. She later worked as director of food nutrition at OU Medical Center and chief financial officer in home health.

In 2001, she started her own business named Choice Home Health Inc. Three years later, she began Choice Hospice to provide compassionate end-of-life care for her patients.

"My most significant accomplishment is that I achieved the American Dream as a first-generation immigrant. I came to the USA with my education and little else. I was able to expand my formal and informal education, work in challenging environments and start my own business," said Chahal, who earned her U.S. citizenship in 1978.

Chahal is a member of EWF International, a private membership forum for female business owners, and Oklahoma Hospice & Palliative Care Association. She also is a former board member and president of the Oklahoma Association for Home Care and Oklahoma Dietetic Association. In addition, she is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City.

Her honors include being named 2000 Volunteer of the Year by the Oklahoma Association of Home Care, Distinguished Dietitian of the Year in 1993 by the Oklahoma Dietetic Association, and a finalist for Manager of the Year at OU Medical Center that same year.

"My major philosophy is based on three principles - work hard, share the fruits of my labor with others and never forget the major player in my life - God and my faith," she said. …