Tuesday, April 23, 2024

TONY BEST: Bajan doc off to Nebraska


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THE HOSPITAL has a familiar name, Good Samaritan, but its location in Nebraska isn’t a household word, not only in Barbados but in many parts of the United States.

Still, in a matter of weeks, Kearney, strategically located at the crossroads leading to Omaha, Lincoln, Denver, Kansas City, Des Moines and Wichita will be the place where Dr Franz Murphy, a former head boy of The Lodge School, will be practising his medical craft as a top-notch vascular surgeon who helps to save limbs and lives.

“I am looking forward to going to Nebraska from Ohio and continuing to do what I was trained at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and Barbados and at Maimonides Medical Centre in Brooklyn and St Luke’s Roosevelt hospital (in Manhattan) to do and that is to save lives,” explained the surgeon who is on growing list of young Bajan physicians who are fanning out across the US, often going to small rural, urban and suburban areas that are off the beaten track.

In layman’s terms, Dr Murphy, 33, who grew up in Marley Vale in St Philip, operates on patients to fix arteries, treat people who have suffered aneurysms, or who otherwise are experiencing painful and life-threatening blockages that limit the flow of blood to and from the heart.

“I really enjoy arterial work that improves the blood supply in the body and I get a lot of satisfaction from successfully treating coronary diseases,” he explained.

The son of Randy and Valerie Murphy of St Philip is leaving the Jobst Vascular Institute in Toledo, Ohio next month to take up a position as a full-time vascular surgeon at the Good Samaritan Hospital, where he will spend eight to ten hours a day performing surgery in a state-of-the art medical facility.

But why is a Bajan who had heard very little about Nebraska before he left the UWI in Jamaica and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown and headed for the US?

When he emigrated to the US several years ago for advanced medical training, he had planned to return home to help do something about the relatively high number of amputations in Barbados.

“I wanted to lower the number of amputations that stem from the effects of diabetes and other diseases,” he said.

“The level of diabetes is very high in Barbados and I felt there were other options which can be pursued and that are what I wanted to do.”

But after his extensive surgical training in Brooklyn and Manhattan, the Bajan and his wife changed plans.

“We have some excellent physicians in Barbados, some of the best you can find. They are well trained and highly motivated and the QEH remains an excellent facility,” he insisted.

“However, the shortage of resources is limiting the ability of doctors and other professional staff to provide the care many people need.”

Take the case of amputations. Dr Murphy wants the QEH to pursue several medical options that are commonplace in the United States, albeit costly, but that would reduce the need for amputations.

That’s where the Barbadian diaspora in the US can come in, he says.

“The truth is that despite its challenges, the QEH is one of the best hospitals in the Caribbean,” he argued.

“The diaspora can help.”

Tony Best is the Nation’s North American correspondent.


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