Guyanese surgeon wants to give back at home

Dr. Horace Griffith displays his 21st Century Leadership Now Award after a ceremony in Guyana.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Dr. Horace Griffith, is hopeful that with this new Guyana government in place, he would get an opportunity to return to his homeland to made a significant contribution, doing what he is passionate about — performing reconstructive surgery to help patients live a normal life.

Because of the type of oral care he received while growing up in Guyana, Dr. Griffith wanted to give back to his country after becoming a surgeon, but said his requests met resistance from the previous government. However, he sees a new opportunity to realize his dream to share his skills in his homeland.

Based in St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands, Dr. Griffith, a Howard University educated dentist said he is determine to give back to his birthplace. Since speaking with new Minister of Health, Dr. George Norton, to whom he expressed his thoughts as to how he could help the Guyanese people, he is optimistic that he will would receive that important call to begin his tour of duty in the Republic.

Dr. Griffith told this reporter after receiving the Twenty-First Century Leadership Now Award during Guyana’s 50th Independence Jubilee in Georgetown, recently, that after completing his high school education he moved to the U.S at 18 years old with a vision to become a dentist, simply because it was difficult to get professional dental care in general while growing up in Guyana.

“This was the impetus for me becoming a dentist, and I went on to become a surgeon, the highest in the field of dentistry, because I felt compelled to pursue this particular career to give back. I am at the top of the ladder in dentistry and it is exciting,” explained Dr. Griffith.

“I like the thrill that I get, yes, I am helping a patient recover from an infection, or a gun-shot to the face that needs reconstructive surgery so that they could return to some semblance of normalcy to function in public. This is exciting to me, and a great way to made a difference.”

In addition to performing cleft palate surgery during medical mission to Africa, Dr. Griffith has worked tirelessly throughout the Caribbean in countries such as Antigua, Dominica, the British Virgin Islands, and earthquake-ravished Haiti where he performed surgeries to repair deformities of the jaw, face, and cleft lip, working in poor and medically underserved communities.

One of his passions is to ensure that his patients are comfortable whenever he has to perform surgery, and especially in cases where parents in the past in Guyana, and even now, use a dentist visit as a scare tactic to discipline their children.

“Parents use going to the dentist as a benchmark for punishment, and this had gone from one generation to the next, but this is changing now because we medicate patients to suppress anxiety,” assured Dr. Griffith, whose practice administers “laughing gas” or medication to relax a patient.

“We are more personable, and not as overpowering as dentistry was before,” adding that his practice sees approximately 30 patients a day. “I am very good at what I do,” said Dr. Griffith, who makes the time to travel around the Caribbean to service patients.

Describing himself as a low-key individual, this dental professional who is one of just a few in his field practicing in the region, completed his post-doctoral training in oral and maxillofacial at Howard University Hospital, District of Columbia General Hospital and Washington DC VA Medical Center.

He completed his dental training at the Howard University College of Dentistry and received his undergraduate degree at Howard University. Dr. Griffith is certified to practice at Lutheran Medical Center in New York City.

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