Radiologist Dr. Yahya Basha is a busy man. Visit his office and you’ll find Hhim surrounded by assistants and swimming in phone calls, people constantly clamoring for his opinions on medicine and community affairs.
The founder and president of Basha Diagnostics, a multi-site diagnostic imaging company that competes with major hospitals in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, Basha has been much more than a doctor since coming to the U.S. from Syria in 1971.
He has been a board member, advisor, contributor and representative of countless cultural, religious, professional and political organizations.
He helped organize communities and start Islamic centers in cities spanning Southeast Mich., from Dearborn and Detroit to Commerce and Franklin — for African American, South Asian, and Bosnian communities in addition to Arab American.
Basha, who received his pre-med and medical degrees from the University of Damascus, came to Detroit to complete his internship and residency, specializing in radiology.
He practiced at a number of area hospitals, often employed by several at a time, before establishing his own practice in 1980, which would become Basha Diagnostics. The company now employs around 100 people with 10 doctors at its various locations.
Basha said that he and his staff have had to “work much harder, longer hours and more days” than doctors at hospitals they’ve had to compete with in order to flourish for so long.
He seems to take much pride in providing a different level of service to patients who need it most, those who are poor, or handicapped. He said that his clinics accept all kinds of insurance and make every effort to keep costs down.
He even employs a fleet of drivers to take patients to and from appointments free of charge.
The fact that he has little free time doesn’t bother him.
He said it’s been worth all the sacrifice over the years because he has been able to generate “finances to support good community causes,” and because he was lucky enough to have “a good wife to help raise the children, teach them Arabic, teach them religion, and ethics…”
“If I didn’t have those two things it would not have been worth it.”
Beyond his involvement in organizations like the Arab American Institute, the Arab American and Chaldean Council, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the American Muslim Council… (the list is endless), Basha has served as a “citizen diplomat” for the U.S. State Department andhas always been politically active.
He said that as a community, being politically-oriented can help Arabs and Muslims to “really become part of America and contribute.”
“We need to have people participating in voting, understanding candidates and understanding their neighbors… involved with boards and councils in communities and in government,” he said. “But a lot of people doubt government, doubt the establishment, don’t trust elected officials… It’s going to take time.”
Basha sees political participation on both national and local levels as a key to Arab American empowerment and a way out of the community’s current vulnerable state.
He describes Arabs, Muslims and immigrants as the latest plat du jour of those in this country of who love to hate.
And he doesn’t think things are going to get any better any time soon.
“It’s gonna get worse… About 20 percent of the people in the U.S. — they hate everybody. They hate poor people. They hate Mexicans. They hate everybody… Those people will continue to pick on us all the time.”
But the other 80 percent, Basha said, “are the best people on Earth.”
“They help you, they support you, they take time…”
Basha, who as a student in Syria was fascinated with and read tirelessly about American society and economic structure, values entrepreneurial ideals and has been close to the Republican Party and the current White House.
But he insists that the community should pursue involvement in both major political parties.
“You have to be Republican and Democrat. Not one.”