July 31, 2020

Fun in Retired Life

By Kuhn Hong, MD, FACR

I submitted my resignation from a busy practice at a Chicago suburban hospital in 2013 and went to Ethiopia to serve as a volunteer radiologist at Myungsung Christian Medical Center in Addis Ababa for five years. My job was helper/associate to four Ethiopian radiologists. We had digital radiography, mammography, and many ultrasound machines, as well as a fluoroscopic unit and CT scanner. Later we added an angio suite to perform interventional procedures and MRI as well.

We opened Myungsung Medical College, and I was involved in teaching medical students, not only in clinical rotation for third- and fourth-year students, but also helping first-year students in anatomy class using radiographic images. It was a privilege and honor to attend the first graduation ceremony with 13 students receiving MD degrees.

I initiated the first two-year interventional radiology fellowship, the first time in that country, with five Ethiopian radiologists completing the program in August 2018. After serving Ethiopia for five years, it was time for me to leave while these five Ethiopian radiologists continued a training program for the second batch of trainees.

  

Family members welcomed us back to the States, and we enjoyed our second retirement. However, many hospital departments in foreign country hospitals have been asking me to help. We decided that we would visit for a short period — only two to three months at a time. After we spent some time in Ethiopia, we were considering the next trip when the coronavirus hit. However, I have kept myself busy at home with various activities.

I remember “night coverage” for emergency readings by overseas radiologists. Now, using the same internet technology, I can read CT scans from Cameroon, where the native radiologist is working. He is the only radiologist with limited training experience, and my duty is double reading and advising accordingly. Today alone, we had cases of “esthesioneuroblastoma,” “mycotic aneurysm of aortic arch” and “craniopharyngioma.” My goal is teaching without leaving home, and certainly the radiologist, surgeons and patients appreciate the service.

I was also approached by a local clinic where many patients do not have any means to pay for the service. I went to this clinic on Saturdays before I left for Ethiopia. Now again, technology allows me to read the X-rays without leaving home. I can read early in the morning before a cup of coffee, or in the evening after spending time outside of home.

I have also been helping a pregnancy center for a long time. The staff counsels pregnant ladies seeking abortions and performs ultrasound examinations. I have been providing this service for more than 15 years, including while I was in Ethiopia, again using the internet to review the ultrasound images.

These activities do not stop me from pursuing a hobby in the arts. I have been actively painting all my life. I had opportunities for solo art exhibitions in Chicago, Seoul, Paris and Addis Ababa. I have been painting at Palette & Chisel, which has 150 years of history in downtown Chicago, and also at Plein Air Painters Chicago on the weekends. It is such a great feeling to stand in front of my easel and enjoy painting, that sometimes I forget that I should go back to the computer to read a few more X-rays and CTs.