During his 40 years of practice, Shaker Heights resident and veteran orthopedic surgeon, William R. Bohl, MD, has served in the dugout and on the sidelines as an orthopedist for both the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers. His practice has also taken him to deserts, jungles and mountains providing care and teaching surgical techniques to residents of resource-scarce countries.
According to the World Health Organization, five billion people do not currently have access to safe, timely and affordable surgical care and anesthesia worldwide. In low- and middle-income countries, nine out of 10 people cannot access even the most basic surgical services. There is an enormous disparity and need for health care workers worldwide, with an estimated lack of 7.2 million people.
Through his work with Health Volunteers Overseas, Medical Ministries International and Mercy Ships, Dr. Bohl helps fill this tremendous void by not only managing surgical cases on his own, but through training local personnel who will assume roles of both educators and health care providers. During his time overseas, he educates on local disease and health conditions and the practices, procedures and skills that will be both relevant and realistic based on environmental circumstances, while making maximum use of locally available equipment and supplies to foster long-term sustainability and care.
“The biggest challenge in most places is the lack of orthopedic implants and devices, so it is useful to know how to make do with what we had here 30-40 years ago,” Dr. Bohl said.
The work is quite intense. In one trip to Baray, Cambodia, Dr. Bohl managed as many as 45 surgical cases in a week. During a normal week in Cleveland, Dr. Bohl typically manages far fewer. All of his surgical and teaching missions are between two weeks and a month long.
“Many of the orthopedic conditions in third world countries are ones we don’t even think about in the United States any more, such as tuberculosis of the joints and spine, poliomyelitis, large numbers of chronic bone infections, and badly neglected club feet and other congenital pediatric deformities,” he said.
Dr. Bohl was a board member for Health Volunteers Overseas for six years and continues to serve as the project director for Orthopedics Overseas in Manilla where he has traveled on three different mission trips. His next trip will take him to western Nepal next October.
Dr. Bohl practices a broad version of sports medicine and orthopedic surgery, caring for all musculoskeletal conditions of the body. His specialties include joint replacement of hips, knees, shoulders, ankles and spine surgery for both cervical and lumbar regions. He cares for traumatic injuries and provides surgical services for hands, feet and ankles, as well as surgery for some tumors. His patients appreciate that he never has to send them to another orthopedic provider due to the wide scope of his practice.
Dr. Bohl is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Ohio Orthopedic Association, Cleveland Orthopedic Society, American College of Surgeons and the Wilderness Medical Society.