Laurisa M
/ Categories: Health and Wellness

Caring for His Community, Near and Far

From an early age, Dr. Milton Ochieng’ witnessed the devastation caused by a lack of health care in his small community. Lwala was two hours away from the nearest hospital, and Dr. Ochieng’ saw the hardships many people in his village faced without a hospital or proper medical care nearby. It encouraged him to pursue a medical career.

Dr. Ochieng’s parents were both teachers, emphasizing to their six children the importance of education. Excelling in school, Dr. Ochieng’ was invited to attend Alliance High School, the oldest and most selective high school in the country. After completing an exchange program in Massachusetts, he decided to apply to college in the United States.

BJC Medical Group Dr. Ochieng treats patient in LwalaDr. Ochieng’ was accepted into Dartmouth College on a scholarship, making the first person in his Kenyan village to be accepted to an American university. To afford a plane ticket to the United States, people in his
village sold off their chickens, cows and other livestock. “They always say you’re the son of the village, not just the child of your parents. I’ll always remember their generosity,” says Dr. Ochieng’.

In 2004, during his second year at Dartmouth, Dr. Ochieng’ and his classmates traveled to Nicaragua to build a medical clinic in a small, rural village. The similarities with his village were striking. It inspired Dr. Ochieng’ to build a clinic in Lwala. His brother Fred Ochieng’, also studying medicine at the time, shared
this vision. 

While attending Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Dr. Ochieng’ and his brother started the Lwala Community Alliance (LCA), a nonprofit organization. Along with community partners, medical school mentors and others, they raised enough money to build a small clinic. Since then, it has grown into Lwala Community Hospital, which by 2015 had more than 30,000 patient visits.

Dr. Ochieng’ balances his work with the LCA while serving as a full-time gastroenterologist at Progress West Hospital. He first came to the St. Louis area for his internship and residency at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He decided to make St. Louis his permanent home, and now lives in Chesterfield with his wife, Laura, and their two young daughters.

His focus in gastroenterology stemmed from his desire to practice internal medicine and care for patients while also working with his hands — performing procedures, like endoscopies and colonoscopies. As a gastroenterologist, he treats adult patients for all types of gastrointestinal concerns, including colon cancer, hepatitis, hemorrhoids and liver problems.

"Our goal is to provide the community with the best care possible,” says Dr. Ochieng'.

What is most rewarding for Dr. Ochieng is being able to provide care to patients for a wide range of issues while also educating them on preventive care. “Many people are afraid of procedures like colonoscopies. Part of my job is to alleviate that fear and anxiety by informing them of the process step-bystep,” says Dr. Ochieng’. “I also encourage my patients to make positive choices for better GI health and stress the importance
of getting their age appropriate screenings.”

Dr. Ochieng’ says serving St. Charles County and delivering excellent care is easy, being part of BJC HealthCare and connected to Washington University. “When needed, I’m able to refer patients to world-class care like Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, right where they live. We’re community hospitals with the reach and expertise that allows any level of care.”

Book an appointment with Dr. Ochieng', or any other digestive dissease specialist online or call 636.928.WELL.

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