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Meet Dr. Anish Mahajan: The Physician who Provided First Update on Tiger Woods After Surgery

Meet Dr. Anish Mahajan: The Physician who Provided First Update on Tiger Woods After Surgery

  • The chief medical officer and acting CEO at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, previously worked in the Obama administration as White House Fellow in the Office of Management and Budget.

Since news of Tiger Woods’ crash car, golf aficionados and fans were waiting with bated breath to get an update on the sporting legend. That update was provided on Feb. 24 early morning, by Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer and acting CEO at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a 425-bed County teaching hospital and level 1 trauma and ambulatory care center, where Woods was admitted with multiple fractures after getting into a single car crash in Los Angeles on Feb. 23. The crash happened near the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes, about 30 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Woods was the sole occupant of a 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV at the time of the accident.

Dr. Anish Mahajan with Sen. Kamala Harris in 2017.

Mahajan said Woods suffered “comminuted open fractures to the upper and lower sections of his right leg, as well as significant trauma to his right ankle,” and that the injuries were treated through a combination of rods, screws and pins. He added that Woods “is currently awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room.” No other details were provided at the time. ESPN says this is the 10th surgery for the 45-year-old Woods, “who has battled various knee, back and neck problems throughout his legendary career.”

As CMO, Mahajan “directly supervises the chairs of all 12 clinical departments and oversees the management, quality, and delivery of all medical services,” as per his LinkedIn page. Mahajan also serves as associate dean of the UCLA-David Geffen School of Medicine. In that role, he is responsible for the graduate medical education and academic affairs of more than 500 resident and fellow trainees and nearly 300 full-time faculty physicians at Harbor-UCLA. Mahajan took over as CMO of Harbour-UCLA in August 2016 and was given the role of acting CEO in September 2020. 

A graduate of Brown Medical School, Mahajan has over 15 years of experience in medicine, having served in a variety of roles, including a stint with the Obama-Biden administration. Between 2009 and 2010, Mahajan served as a White House Fellow in the Office of Management and Budget, where he worked on the formation of the Affordable Care Act and the President’s Global Health Initiative.

From 2012 through 2016, he was Director of System Planning, Improvement, & Data Analytics for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS), the second largest municipal health system in the nation. At DHS, he helped lead organizational transformation under the Affordable Care Act and oversaw multiple system-wide units including the Office of Planning & Data Analytics, Enterprise Health Information Management, and Section 1115 Medicaid Waiver performance improvement initiatives. His other roles include serving as the Interim Associate Medical Director for Outpatient Services at Harbour-UCLA.

In December 2020, Mahajan made headlines for speaking up on the mental toll Covid-19 was taking on healthcare professionals. He told NBCs “The Today Show” that his hospital’s ICU is overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. “People are exhausted,” he told Craig Melvin. “The mental toll is incalculable on the folks on the front line.” 

Mahajan told the Portland Press Herald earlier this month that at one point, his hospital was stretched to 150 percent of its normal ICU capacity. “The hospital created a list of all pending procedures and asked doctors to prioritize them based on a key factor: If the patient doesn’t get surgery within two weeks could they be at risk of serious harm” he said. “In some cases, the county said, patients asked to push back operations and in other instances the county’s overburdened hospitals requested the delays,” Mahajan said, adding, that the doctors were “stuck in a bind you can’t control.” 

Because Harbor-UCLA and County-USC are Level 1 trauma centers, he added, he said they sometimes receive so many victims of car accidents and violence in a single day that even some Tier 1 procedures occasionally have to be pushed back a bit because the operating staff is handling other emergency cases. “We all feel the agony of our patients,” he told the Portland Press Herald. “They’re waiting and they need their care, but there’s this massive pandemic.”

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However, he warned that even though case counts have begun to level off,  the public should remain vigilant with masks and social distancing. He said he was worried that “as the highly transmissible COVID-19 variants continue to spread, hospital censuses could spike again. “We’ll have a bigger problem on our hands,” he said. “We won’t be able to revert to getting back to these surgeries.”

Apart from being a distinguished internal medicine specialist, Mahajan is known for his work on healthcare policy and has also published several papers on topics like deductibles in health insurance, HIV testing policy and other topics.

He received a B.A. in Public Policy and M.D. from Brown University. He also completed a M.P.H. in International Health from Harvard School of Public Health and M.S. in Health Services from UCLA. Anish completed his residency in internal medicine and was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at UCLA.

Bhargavi Kulkarni has been a journalist for nearly two decades. She has a degree in English literature and French. She is also an adventure sport enthusiast, and in her free time, she likes to cook, bake, bike and hike.

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