From Brooklyn College to Ghana, “Nil Sine Magno Labore”

ACCRA, Ghana – Distinguished Brooklyn College alumnus, Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, opened a new children’s ward this past summer at his orthopedic hospital in his home country of Ghana.
Boachie-Adjei is the founder and president of the Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine, or FOCOS, where he specializes in spinal reconstruction and the treatment of scoliosis. This field of medicine is not common in Ghana, so many patients come from all over West Africa for treatment.
Boachie-Adjei was born in Kumasi, Ghana, and later immigrated to the United States in 1972 to pursue his education. He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1976 with a degree in Chemistry and a minor in Africana Studies, where he later received an honorary doctorate and the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2014.

FOCOS Hospital, Accra, Ghana / Derek Norman

FOCOS Hospital, Accra, Ghana / Derek Norman

“I left Ghana at age 21, but I always came back and now I’m here to stay,” said Boachie-Adjei. “I retired from special surgery, said goodbye to my colleagues, closed my office, sold my house, sold my car and bought a one-way ticket home.”
Hanging on the wall of his office is the award that was presented to him from the Africana Studies Department, along with his degrees from Columbia University and the honorary doctorate showcasing his pride for Brooklyn College.
“Brooklyn College was great to me,” said Boachie-Adjei. “I still remember the school motto. ‘Nil sine magno labore.’ Nothing without great effort.”
Visiting FOCOS hospital were a few students from the Brooklyn College study abroad program, led by the department chairperson of Africana Studies, Professor Lynda Day.
“The department is understandably proud that a Brooklyn College graduate went on to a brilliant career as an orthopedic surgeon and now is giving back in a big way helping patients in Ghana (and other African countries) with spinal deformities,” said Day. “His beautiful little hospital in Accra is a model of efficient and well-organized patient care.”

Children patients playing outside the hospital / Derek Norman

Children patients playing outside the hospital / Derek Norman

There is a possibility of future opportunities for students to intern at FOCOS hospital, as a way to gain experience in physical therapy and patient care.
The hospital itself has 50 beds and two wards, but also owns two homes in the area for patients from foreign countries to stay until they are well enough to travel. The specialization is in spinal deformities, but the hospital is equipped to treat for trauma, pediatrics and provides care for elderly arthritis issues as well.
“We plan to expand. We just cut the ribbon for the new children’s ward,” said Boachie-Adjei. “We have an institute for professional development, and plan on having more subspecialties in orthopedics.”
Every day the doctor arrives at 7 a.m. and stays until 7 p.m. He spends his days caring for patients, making rounds, conducting teaching meetings and concludes every week with research in the field.

Akwaaba or Welcome in the new children's ward / Derek Norman

Akwaaba or Welcome in the new children’s ward / Derek Norman

“You have to work hard,” said Boachie-Adjei. “When I started, I had nothing. I really had nothing. But you collect as you go. You just have to work hard.”
Reminiscing on his time at Brooklyn College, Boachie-Adjei was jokingly bitter about the one time he may have gotten a grade lesser than an “A.”
“I think I got a ‘B’ in organic chemistry, but my wife was pregnant at the time,” said Boachie-Adjei. “Also I didn’t do well at swimming. And I haven’t swam since.”
Boachie-Adjei lives with his wife in Accra, where he is wholly content and plans to remain, giving back to his home country of Ghana and pioneering in the orthopedic field. The distinguished alumnus award hangs at eye level, serving as a constant reminder to Boachie-Adjei of his humble beginnings and roots at Brooklyn College.

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