David Akinpelu, M.D. first handled a stethoscope at the tender age of 9 years and has known ever since that the practice of medicine was his dream career. 

In a recent interview, the medical director of Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital's emergency department called completing medical school "one of the happiest days of my life."

Another notable event, he says, was joining Riverside Shore Memorial.  Born in Britain and educated in Nigeria, Akinpelu came to the Eastern Shore in May 2012 as an attending physician in the ER.  When the hospital approached him about the permanent medical director position, Akinpelu gladly accepted.

Since he's been director of the ER, he says the increasingly high scores from patient satisfaction surveys tell him the Eastern Shore community embraces the hospital's work to provide affordable, comprehensive, and quality emergency care.

"We do not take this for granted, but recognize we must continue to improve the quality of care.  That means building and maintaining a strong partnership with the local Emergency Medical Service (EMS) volunteers because quality care starts in the field." 

"From the rapid treatment in the field through transport to the hospital in a timely manner, pre-hospital treatment plays a key role in determining the outcome of the emergency."  The local EMS squads are top-rate, says Akinpelu, as are the nurses and staff in the emergency department.  

In the 10 months since he's been ER director, Riverside Shore Memorial has expanded a number of services and has greatly improved access of medical records through an electronic database.  But the work doesn't stop there.

Akinpelu says construction of a new more comprehensive hospital in Accomack County to replace the existing facility will better serve the community because it will be closer to more people.

"All emergency departments face challenges like how to get patients the care they need as quickly as possible – at RSMH the cohesive, collegial work environment allows us to focus on the patient and on improving on the challenges;  there is a great 'can do' attitude at all levels of the organization that helps us to continually improve."

Akinpelu's uncle, a young pathologist in New Zealand, introduced him to medicine when he gave him that stethoscope at age 9.  By high school, Akinpelu had set his sights on a career in medicine.  He earned his medical degree from the University College Hospital in Nigeria, an extension the University College Hospital in Britain.  Akinpelu completed his residency at Brooklyn Hospital in New York.  He practiced internal medicine on the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago for 2 ½ years.

Akinpelu says he fell in love with the Eastern Shore on his first visit.  He enjoys the rural setting, friendly people and bristling marine life.  He loves that proximity to the water allows him time for fishing and boating. 

While the region may have a small-town flavor, the benefit of having a community hospital affiliated with Riverside, one of the region's top-rated medical care providers, is obvious.

"We enjoy tremendous support from all of Riverside's subspecialists, and if I need to consult a surgeon, he'll respond quickly," Akinpelu says.  "This is so important in the practice medicine in a rural setting - to be connected to subspecialists so efficiently and effectively."

In addition, Riverside solicits input from the physicians in deciding about areas of growth and expansion of services, Akinpelu says.

Akinpelu recently celebrated his 15th wedding anniversary.  His wife, Angela, a 2012 graduate of University of Eastern Shore, is a physician's assistant at Northwest Hospital in Baltimore.  The Akinpelus have two children.

Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital anchors Riverside's services on the Eastern Shore.  Additional Riverside facilities in the area include Riverside Shore Rehabilitation Center and Riverside Medical Group physician offices.  Services include:  Emergency Care, Critical Care, Surgery, Newborn Care, Cancer Care, Diagnostic Imaging, Family Medicine and Specialty Physicians, Long Term Care, Physical Therapy and Home Care.

Published: March 20, 2013