Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Group steps in when doctor bill is bitter pill

Dr. Chuma Osuji started African Ambassadors, which provides health care and support to people hard pressed to afford it.

STEFANIE BOYAR | Times

Dr. Chuma Osuji started African Ambassadors, which provides health care and support to people hard pressed to afford it.

TAMPA — More than five years have passed since a Nigerian doctor founded African Ambassadors in Tampa.

The organization that began serving the community in 2003 with only two doctors, a nurse and slim funding has since helped nearly 2,000 patients who can't afford adequate health care, organizers say.

For founder Dr. Chuma Osuji, it has had some ups and downs, but through it all, the organization has survived.

"We've been able to make a lot of improvements in this community," Osuji said.

African Ambassadors is a nonprofit organization that gives secondary medical support to Tampa residents. Four doctors and six nurses volunteer by visiting walk-in clinics, including the DoCare Clinic on Cypress Avenue and the Kenaday Medical Clinic on Waters Avenue. The group has an office at 602 Arbor Lake Lane on Harbour Island.

African Ambassadors provides free health care to those who have insufficient health insurance or none. Patients pay what they can afford, which often is nothing.

Osuji (pronounced oh-SOO-jee) said the organization has more than 425 patients. It began with only about 20.

Public donations and membership fees to the organization pay for equipment, health screenings and tests, special community activities and other costs. But the funding can be stretched only so far.

"Sometimes you can accomplish a mission by doing what you have to do and making the sacrifices you need to make," Osuji said. "But we still have a long way to go."

There are an estimated 47-million Americans without health insurance, according to 2006 Census Bureau figures.

Osuji, who is from Nigeria, wants residents to know that despite the group's name, doctors assist all patients in need.

"We never look at a man or woman and say, 'No, if you have a job, you should be able to take care of yourself,' " he said.

On Saturday, the organization will host its Fifth Year Sankofa Festival, featuring international food, wine and dancers. The gala is the group's biggest of the year and will raise money to provide free medical services.

African Ambassadors offers preventive screenings for heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol checks. Osuji said none of it would be possible without the donations. "We expect big things with this event," he said.

The doctor has big ideas for the next five years.

He said he would like African Ambassadors to have its own clinic, specialized doctors who visit regularly, and the ability to give money to less-privileged doctors in other countries.

"If you're going to do something," he said, "do it."

Eric Smithers can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3339.

>>if you go

Dancing, dining

for a cause

The African Ambassadors Fifth Year Sankofa Festival will be from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at the West Tampa Convention Center, 3005 W Columbus Drive, Tampa. Tickets are $50 in advance, $55 at the door (includes dinner and dancing); $25 in advance, $30 at the door for dancing only. For more information, call 878-2223.

Group steps in when doctor bill is bitter pill 05/08/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2008 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Equifax CEO Richard Smith steps down amid hacking scandal

    Personal Finance

    The chief executive of Equifax, the troubled credit reporting agency that suffered a massive data breach that affected as many as 143 million people, will retire, effective Tuesday, according to a statement by the company.

    Richard Smith, chief executive of Equifax, the troubled credit reporting agency that suffered a massive data breach that affected as many as 143 million people, will reportedly retire effective Tuesday.
[File photo: Joey Ivansco/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP]
  2. NCAA coaches among 10 charged with fraud and corruption

    College

    NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors have announced charges of fraud and corruption in college basketball, including against four coaches.

    The coaches work at Arizona, pictured, Oklahoma State, Auburn University and the University of Southern California. [Getty Images]
  3. Bass Pro acquires Cabela's for $4 billion

    Retail

    Bass Pro Shops has acquired competitor Cabela's for a reported $4 billion. Bass Pro indicated it is seeking to appeal to all "outdoor enthusiasts" with the move, roping in hunting customers from Cabela's.

    Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela's for $4 billion, Bass Pro announced Tuesday. | [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  4. Donald Trump calls for NFL to set a rule forbidding players from kneeling during national anthem

    Bucs

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is up and tweeting, and his target is the NFL.

    The Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones, center, take a knee prior to the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday in Glendale, Ariz. [AP photo]
  5. Tampa International named among least expensive airports

    News

    TAMPA — Florida airports apparently have a knack for getting it done cheaply.

    According to RewardExpert, Tampa International Airport is the fifth least expensive domestic airport. 
[CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
 file photo]