TACOMA, Washington — Over the past 17 years, Ghanaian health has improved substantially. This is mainly due to the government leaving its “cash and carry” healthcare system in the past and embracing a new public healthcare plan. Since the new plan’s establishment, there have been hundreds of hospitals installed around the country that offer citizens low-cost appointments with primary care doctors. One such facility is the FOCOS Hospital.
A Young Man Goes Abroad
Oheneba Boachie-Adjei was born in Ghana in 1950. He traveled to the U.S. with just $12 in his pocket to pursue his college education. In 1976, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Brooklyn College, summa cum laude. Four years later, he earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Upon completing his doctoral education, he went to study spine deformities at the University of Minnesota.
Professionally, Dr. Boachie-Adjei was selected to serve as the new chief of the Scoliosis Service at the Hospital for Special Service in New York in 1994. During his time as chief, he established the Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine (FOCOS) Hospital in Accra, Ghana. FOCOS Hospital’s aim is to correct orthopedic and spinal problems for people in developing countries. This organization proved to be worthwhile, and the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons awarded Dr. Boachie-Adjei the Humanitarian Award in 2004.
Returning to Ghana
Dr. Boachie-Adjei was deeply appreciative of the time he spent in the U.S. However, his true calling was always to return home. In 2014, he told interviewers, “My return to Ghana has been in the making for many years. In 1972, I came to the U.S. for a purpose and I have achieved that. I have trained at the finest orthopedic hospital in the country and have given back what I could. I am 63 years old and if I want to train more surgeons in Ghana, now is the time.”
Dr. Boachie-Adjei’s first order of business upon his return home was to lay out a five-year plan. His hopes included better medical education, a research facility, a larger group of volunteers, three to four full-time orthopedic surgeons and a full-time anesthesiologist among several other high-quality medical necessities.
The FOCOS Hospital
Since the FOCOS Hospital’s establishment, nearly $20 million have been donated to supporting the treatment of orthopedic problems in developing countries. The facility has 70 beds, can operate inpatient and outpatient care and includes departments in radiology, physiotherapy and emergency services. It is currently pursuing accreditation from the Joint Commission International. This accreditation would set FOCOS apart as a facility that provides the “optimal quality of care.”
Over the course of 22 years, the FOCOS Hospital has provided care to more than 55,000 patients. Additionally, the hospital’s skilled surgeons have performed nearly 3,000 complex orthopedic and spine surgeries that save patients from back pain, muscle and bone deformation and paralysis.
Help for the Hospital
FOCOS Hospital is a nonprofit establishment. It could not function without its volunteers and donations. More than 500 doctors, nurses and physical therapists have donated their time and skills to work with FOCOS and provide necessary care to improve Ghanaians’ quality of life. The donations to FOCOS provide resources for research and medical development and funding for new and improved machines. Most importantly, donations allow for the opportunity to provide life-changing and life-saving care to those who cannot afford it.
Heroes like Dr. Boachie-Adjei are few and far between. Through his work, he has truly changed the lives of tens of thousands of individuals. What started out as a dream from a poor young man became his most impressive accomplishment years later. It is due to innovators like Dr. Boachie-Adjei that world health continues to improve. With continued support for FOCOS Hospital and similar nonprofits, there is hope that daunting healthcare situations worldwide can be overcome.
– Rebecca Blanke