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John Ross M. D.

World class medical surgery being performed in Bamberg

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Writer

The Bamberg County Memorial Hospital is becoming an epicenter of medical thought because of a medical procedure being performed everyday by internationally acclaimed Chief of Surgery at BCMH Dr. John Ross and his medical team.

Over 20 years ago Dr. Ross started a vascular access program at the Bamberg County Memorial Hospital in Bamberg. Vascular Access is defined as establishing operations where patients can go on dialysis.

“We live in an area that has a tremendously high population of dialysis patients because of diabetes,” Dr. Ross said Wednesday morning outside of the BCMH operating room as he prepared to perform one of several procedures planned for the day.

When asked why he decided to start this program in Bamberg, Dr. Ross said, “It would be good for the community to have a vascular access program.”

The program was established in response to the large growth rate of diabetes in this area and nationally which results in the establishment of end stage renal disease (ESRD).

“Bamberg has one center, Orangeburg has two centers, and Barnwell, Allendale and Hampton all have dialysis centers. We’re located in the middle of all of this. I became interested in this about 20 years ago and it grew from there,” Dr. Ross added.

And grow it has. Over the last 20 years medical professionals from all over the nation have beaten a path to BCMH to learn how to perform the vascular access procedure from Dr. Ross. Many establish their own clinics as a result of the training.

One might think that being a small rural hospital would be a disadvantage for a physician trying to establish a world class medical program. But, such is not the case for Dr. Ross who attributes much of the program’s success to his team of nurses, technicians, doctors and hospital personnel.

“By being so remote we were able to learn a lot of things-and a lot of things traditionally done in vascular access have been all wrong. We were able to discover sometimes there were better ways of doing things,” Dr. Ross commented.

Dr. Ross, a certified instructor and founding member of the American Society of Diagnostic and International Nephrology since 2005, has seen a steady increase in the number of physicians coming to Bamberg to be trained to perform vascular access procedures.

Wednesday afternoon Dr. Ross had a visit from Dr. Adrian Abner, an internationally renowned Cardiovascular Surgeon and Chief of the Cardiovascular Surgery Department at The French Hospital in Asuncion, Paraguay.

“I’m greatly honored to have someone as influential as Dr. Abner to come from Paraguay to collaborate on new procedures and help setup a program of vascular access in Paraguay. What is happening now is that we are getting an international presence,” said Dr. Ross.

The developer of the vascular access program at BCMH has also received requests from other countries like New Zealand, and three months ago the State Department called to inquire about the possibility of developing a program in Iran. But, because of the political upheaval in Iran at this time that program has been put on hold.

Dr. Abner noted that Paraguay is a “poor country with a very primary or basic health care system.” He stated that the clinical trials that he will be involved in with Dr. Ross will help people in his country find medical options that they can afford.

“Cardiovascular disease is very prevalent in Paraguay. Dr. Ross is in leadership in trying to find a perfect system. We will work like a team with this center (BCMH) and be like a long arm in South America,” Dr Abner said of his relationship to Dr. Ross.

John Wilson, Vice President of Vascular Devices LLC, Clinical Operations of Brunswick, NJ has worked with Dr. Ross for 3½ years developing a new graph for vascular access called a “quick stick graph”. Wilson met Dr. Ross in Paraguay in 2001-2002 while completing clinical experience with Dr. Abner in Paraguay.

Wilson stated that when he first came to Bamberg he could not believe that a small rural community like this could be the location of an internationally known vascular access program.

“You guys are lucky to have Dr. Ross here, it’s a small world. Bamberg is an epicenter of medical thought. That is the potential that exists here. That an area like Bamberg thought to be depressed can be a Mecca for medicine and a hope for the future…”Wilson said.

With demand for his services L-Las a surgeon and instructor in the area of vascular access surgery growing, Dr. Ross was asked why he stays at BCMH. “We thought for a long time the viability of the hospital relied on the vascular access program. I thought that it was very important for the community to have this and that is one reason we stayed here so long,” Dr. Ross said.

In conclusion Dr. Ross noted that the number of vascular access and renal disease patients is growing because of diabetes, which he said could be controlled if people would change their attitudes. He observed that the BCMH has almost evolved into a tertiary control center for dialysis access.

“Vascular access surgery has been a passion of mine for so long. There is nothing that I enjoy more than getting up in the morning and doing this. I cannot imagine getting up in the morning and not doing this, this is my passion,” Dr. Ross said.

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