TriHealth Bridge

10 February, 2020

This week’s feature for Black History Month takes a look at the African American physicians who are currently making history at TriHealth.

 

 

 

Dr. Regina Whitfield Kekessi

Dr. Regina Whitfield Kekessi, a TriHealth obstetrician-gynecologist, shares her career journey and the impact she is making in the community and with TriHealth. Click here to learn more about Dr. Whitfield Kekessi's story (video).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Roosevelt Walker

Dr. Roosevelt Walker, a TriHealth obstetrician-gynecologist, shares his experiences and perspectives on becoming a physician and his work in the community. Click here to learn more about Dr. Walker's story (video).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Rochelle Buckley

Education: Meharry Medical College, Spelman College (undergraduate)
Specialty: Adult Psychiatry

How has diversity & inclusion affected your career path – did it hinder or help?

  • Dr. Rochelle Buckley attended a diverse high school and two historically black colleges before starting her residency. She experienced being a minority for the first time in her medical career when she did her residency at University of Cincinnati. For the first 6 months she felt overlooked because she would raise her hand to answer questions and some instructors would ignore her.
  • After residency she took time off to raise her three daughters, homeschooling them for a period of time to give them an environment free from bias. An African American mentor from her residency, Dr. Charles Collins, helped her navigate coming back to medicine.
  • She started working in the Psych ER at University of Cincinnati and developed a passion for working with patients with chronic mental illness and noticed that for her African American patients the interpretation of their illness could be impacted by our implicit cultural biases.
  • Next she went to Central Community Health Board in Hamilton County that serves a large minority patient group and was their medical director and she realized that she was making inroads in ensuring equity in mental health care.
  • Here at TriHealth Dr. Buckley shared that some of her African American patients have told her that they've “felt heard for the first time" working with her.
  • Dr. Rochelle Buckley and her husband Dr. William Buckley are passionate about their upcoming involvement as Executive Sponsors of a new TriHealth African American Employee Resource Group because of what “we’ll be able to do to help us overcome biases as we serve patients.”

How do you engage with the community (volunteering, boards, etc.)?

  • Her primary community engagement is through the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, where she is on the fundraising committee which gives scholarships annually to deserving students. She’s also active in her church and leads bible studies.
  • Who in Black history inspires you?

    • Harriet Tubman, who was recently the subject of a movie in 2019. Harriet figured out what she needed to do for herself and once she did that she wouldn't settle until she helped other slaves be freed and fought for equal rights for women. Dr. Buckley said that her “tenacity was relentless.”

    Dr. William Buckley

    Education: Meharry Medical College, Fisk University (undergraduate)
    Specialty: Obstetrics and Gynecology

    How has diversity & inclusion affected your career path – did it hinder or help?

    • Dr. William “Bill” Buckley grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of parents who were both college-educated teachers. His parents made sure he understood that the sky was the limit for his future.
    • He attended a diverse high school before attending two historically black colleges and universities before becoming the first African American graduate of the Good Samaritan Hospital OBGYN residency program. Cincinnati was the first time he was thoroughly exposed to a majority white culture and felt a responsibility to “carry the mantle for my ethnic and racial community.”
    • Ultimately once folks recognized his abilities, for the most part, he had limited issues with overt racism. He was immediately embraced by certain groups in the hospital, but there were always some who were stand-offish.
    • During his interview to join Group Health in 1995, he remembered being asked “What do you bring to Group Health?” His response, “The main thing I bring to Group Health is diversity because there are no African American physicians here.” Group Health had a large black patient population, especially in Clifton. “Given my experience in the Cincinnati health care community, I have become acutely aware of the need for me to stand up in support of racial and ethnic equity and equality.”
    • As a physician, he used to feel like he had to “go the extra mile” to build his reputation. He doesn’t think much about those experiences now, but they were on his mind when he and his partner, Dr. Reed, established a practice in Anderson and Batavia. He was aware of racial differences and felt adept at code-switching to put patients at ease. Experiences of overt racism were not common, but one patient did tell him, “My husband doesn’t want me to see you because you’re black.” Some patients would tell the other physicians in the practice that they didn’t feel comfortable with Dr. Buckley because he’s “tall,” which became their code word for recognizing patient biases. Dr. Buckley shared that he saw the overt and subtle racism and ignored it; he’s comfortable with who he is.

    How do you engage with the community (volunteering, boards, etc.)?

    • Dr. Buckley is an active member of Omega Psi Phi, an international fraternity with various community service projects. He serves on the board of the Star Chapter Foundation, helping raise scholarship funds for kids in underserved communities. He also plays drums at his church.
    • At TriHealth, he is involved in the Physician Diversity, Equity & Inclusion workgroup. He and his wife, Dr. Rochelle Buckley, are looking forward to serving as Executive Sponsors of a new TriHealth African American Employee Resource Group.
    • He is a member of the Cincinnati Medical Association - The local NMA chapter. The National Medical Association (NMA) is the collective voice of African American physicians and the leading force for parity and justice in medicine and the elimination of disparities in health.

    Who in Black history inspires you?

    • Vivien Thomas, a distant cousin on his grandmother’s side, was an instructor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at John’s Hopkins University where he did groundbreaking research on “blue baby syndrome.”
    • John Lewis has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to do the right thing since his early involvement in the civil rights movement. He has worked to further the prospects of the African American community and for equality and equity in general.

    Overall Rating:

    Comments:

    Hearing your experiences are definitely affirmation that a person can overcome any obstacle just by believing in themselves. Our dreams are what we make them. Thanks for sharing your stories and marking history.
    Posted by: Team Member on 16 February, 2020

    Sincere thanks to all of you for providing much needed care, support and inspiration to your patients and to other minority medical professionals.
    Posted by: Janice Duncan on 12 February, 2020

    Thanks for the inspiration
    Posted by: Team Member on 12 February, 2020

    I respect them and commend them all! They have many accomplishments . How inspiring
    Posted by: Kathy Baker on 12 February, 2020

    Thank you all for your drive and commitment to healthcare. Thank you for sharing the "spirit of life" by saving lives and making a difference.
    Posted by: Darlene Taulbee on 12 February, 2020

    Thanks Dr. Buckley for serving in an area of Cincinnati that is not really diverse. Your courage and example are an example we all need here in Cincinnati.
    Posted by: Deborah Hazelwood on 12 February, 2020

    Thank you doctors for your trail-blazing, pioneering spirit that inspires others to be the best that they can be, in order to touch the lives of the many who stand in need. Chaplain Levi Gause, Th.M.; B.C.C.
    Posted by: Levi Gause on 11 February, 2020