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Winthrop man’s teenage grandson displaying medical expertise in Ghana

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WINTHROP - Doogie Howser’s got nothing on Jeovanni Oldfield.

Jeovanni, the 15-year-old grandson of Winthrop resident Marvin Baker, is currently completing a mission trip in Ghana, working at two hospitals inserting IVs and prepping patients for surgeries among other medical tasks.

The teenager lives with his mother, Heather Ann Baker-Oldfield, in Phoenix, Az., and occasionally visits the north country.

“I’ve been (in Ghana) for three weeks. I left on Aug. 10, and I just came because I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. The way they do things in Ghana, only certain hospitals can do surgery. I saw this opportunity and decided to go,” Jeovanni said.

As if studying and working in the medical field in an African country wasn’t impressive enough, Jeovanni is also taking college courses at Paradise Valley Community College at an age when many are focusing on obtaining their learner’s permit.

Jeovanni is also a senior in high school in Phoenix and will be leaving Ghana on Thursday to head back to school.

“I have one high school class and am a senior and will be taking five (college) classes. I get back (to Arizona) on Friday night and get the weekend to re-cooperate and then go back to school,” he said.

“He’s rather young and he’s been interested in medicine for as long as I can remember,” Ms. Baker-Oldfield added. “He’s had experience in doing many medical clinics in hospitals in the Phoenix area.”

Mr. Baker said that his grandson is far from the first member of the family to dive into the field of medicine.

In fact, Mr. Baker’s sister is a medical director of a hospital in Globe, Az., and he has a brother-in-law that does missionary work in Haiti, as well as working as a vascular surgeon in Wisconsin.

“I also have a niece who is a doctor in (Wisconsin) and she is following in his footsteps,” the Winthrop man said. “(Jeovanni) is an expert fencer, and he plays football too. He goes to a prep school in Phoenix, Az.”

Ms. Baker-Oldfield graduated from Parishville-Hopkinton Central School in 1989 and said that she and her son periodically return to St. Lawrence Country for visits.

“This just came along so perfectly when they offered him the opportunity for the mission trip. ... In preparing for this trip he took many online classes specific to the medical field in Africa,” she said. “I try to talk with him as much as possible, but it is difficult because of the connection and reception. The place where he is staying has other college students from all over the world on their internships.”

Jeovanni has been staying in Kasoa, Ghana during his mission trip and travels every day to the hospitals in Pokuase - nearly two hours away.

“I have shifts in the morning and afternoon. I wake up around 5 and get (to the hospital) around 7. Then the morning shift is 7 to 2 and the afternoon shift is from 2 to 5. It’s basically 7 to 2 or later,” Jeovanni said. “When I first started off it was very basic – taking vitals, pulse, etc. The next day I was doing vaccinations, IVs for any patient being submitted. That’s what I’ve been doing.”

He said that he is the youngest volunteer without a family his program - Helping Abroad - has ever had.

The outbreak of the highly fatal Ebola virus in Western Africa has dominated news headlines lately.

Though the disease has hit countries surrounding Ghana, Jeovanni indicated that it has not hit the country he is working in yet.

He also noted that the disease may not be what you think in terms of its ability to be transmitted.

“A lot of them are misled by the media. I had to study a college class beforehand. Ebola is not a hand-to-hand contact (disease) and is more like a disease that is transmitted,” Jeovanni said. “People say it’s hand-to-hand contact but it’s not. If you cough in someone’s face, have an open cut or any bodily fluid, (the transmission) can occur.”

The 15-year-old student has taken his medical talents from coast-to-coast in the United States and has now brought his expertise to an entirely different continent.

Jeovanni said that he may end up back in the Empire State though, depending on where the help is most needed.

“New York has always been my home kind of place. Half of my family is from there and once I finish college I may want to help out in America on the east coast,” he said. “I don’t know if I’d come back to Ghana but would want to go back somewhere that needs help.”

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