|Introducing the doctor via Google Hangouts|
Tell me about your early days growing up.
I was born in on the beautiful island of Jamaica in the sunny Caribbean. Early education was at Manning’s Hill school. At age fifteen, I attended St Mary’s College where I studied and became a school Prefect and was very active in sports as a long distance runner. After graduation I went to England where I studied chemistry, sociology, and human biology at Sutton Cold Field College and Dudley College in the West Midlands. Initially while attending College I studied Nursing at The Guest Hospital and High Croft psychiatric Hospital and became registered as a State and psychiatric nurse (SRN, RMN) shortly after completing a course in Neurosurgery at the midland Center for Neurology in Smethwick Warley I attained the position of a Nurse Examiner for England and Wales.
At what stage did you decide to become a doctor?
All the time I was studying I was seeking a way to go to medical school. I obtained a Government Scholarship and studied medicine at the American University of the Caribbean.
How was medical school?
Studying medicine at the university was enjoyable but tedious and fast-paced. One had to stay up for long hours reading. But I was well prepared from the studies I had done in England. I was an honor student in Systemic pathology, psychopathology, neuropathology and clinical biochemistry. I graduated in May of 1982.
When did you move to the United States?
In 1982, following graduation from medical School I sat the (ECFMG) Education Commission for foreign medical Graduates exam and immigrated to the US. I then sat for the (FLEX) Federal Licensing exam and obtained a medical license in two States.
Did you do any other studies in the U.S.?
Yes. In May of 1983, I entered the Residency Program at Lutheran Medical Center in St Louis MO. During that training I did my electives in GYN and pediatrics at SUNY downstate. I graduated the program in May of 1985.
Since then I have been Board Certified in Family Medicine, Managed Care Medicine, and Disability as a senior analyst, Fellow of the American Academy of family Medicine. Specialty in acute Psychiatry drug addiction and alcoholism.
When did you start your medical Practice? How did you choose where to start and medical needs of the population you wanted to serve?
Following the Residency program training the city was still racially divided and there was a dire need for medical care for the indigent and poor and mostly elderly African Americans. I decided to do something about it. To ease some of the suffering in the poor communities especially the projects I joined with the late Benny Gordon an activist for improving the conditions for Blacks, and together we devised a plan to bring health care to as many as we could. One of the biggest problem we encountered was educating the clients on how to take care of their disease. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid conditions, arthritis and lupus was common. Together we devised a plan consisting of discussions, and workshops. The city health department was willing to help us with immunizations and pamphlets, and would lend us a nurse at times. The other problem was maintaining a sizable attendance so we started Saturday Morning breakfast where each attendant paid one dollar and had breakfast while we presented. Some of the presentations dealt with well woman, well men, workshops, how to care for diabetes ,high blood pressure, chronic pain, prostate cancer, compliance with treatment, medications, Cancer in general ,Nutrition, heart attacks, when to see a doctor, HIV-aids, and urgencies and an emergency. The Baptist church that Mr. Gordon attended donated the church basement for our project. Once a month we had a session called “Ask the Doctor”. This session was one of the more popular well attended ones.
What other charitable contributions have you done in the medical field?
After some time the attendance outgrow the church basement and I extended the talks into the senior residence buildings.From this idea I developed House Calls and was the first doctor in St Louis to start home visits which has now become popular. Patients that could not leave home often because of their residual disability were seen at home examined and evaluated. There were many patients that fell into this category. Seeing a patient at home eliminated the ER visit and sometime a long wait to be seen. A Family member did not have to miss work and a day’s salary to take a loved one to the doctor. Patients treated at home got better faster when their loved one would participate in their care. Quite often ancillary services such as physical therapy occupational therapy and home nursing care, had to be arranged. The charitable work was also a part of my Office practice. I had an open door policy for all poor and indigent and elderly sick patients. Everyone got treated equally. The majority of patients could not pay but it did not matter. There was always a large number of patients to attend to. My office hours grew longer and sometimes I would be seeing patients until 10pm.
Was your charitable work ever recognized?
Yes it was. One of the first recognition was for community work, from the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri. The American Insurance Company, Black Expo recognized my work in the community also. I was twice recognized for community work by the St Louis Academy of Family physicians and was given the Greater St Louis Community award for medicine. Over the years I have had a total of 27 different organizations recognizing my work in the community. A few of the organizations are ST Louis academy of family physicians,American Geriatric Society, Gateway Society, Girls Inc., 100 Black women, Missouri Health Care association, Affiliated Psychiatric Institute, St Louis University school of medicine, St. Alexis Hospital, Lutheran Medical Center, St. Elizabeth Adult Day Care, Board of Alderman city of St Louis., Incarnate word Hospital, Cardinal Ritter Institute. The American Olympic Committee.Tell me about the cooling House you established in the City for the poor and indigent.This started in 2004 when there was a flood and storm in St Louis and power was out for several days. I established a rescue house in the city with 12 beds. Then in 2005 St Louis had temperatures in excess of 110 degree Fahrenheit. The building was again used for rescuing the poor who had no electricity or air conditioning. We had several patients on oxygen and some bed ridden patients stayed for 1 to 2 weeks when it was safe for them to go back to their homes. In this instant the building was used as a cooling center during the day and I partnered with the city.
Do you plan to retire anytime soon?
I have no plans to retire. As long as I am capable of contributing something to make the community better I will be doing so. I could do with having a vacation but I am afraid I do not have the means at this time. I would encourage anyone who can afford it to help someone especially the indigent, poor and elderly, to do so. It helps to relieve their suffering, and pain." Every little bit helps".