International trip honors late Grand River doctor, Bill Bevins |

International trip honors late Grand River doctor, Bill Bevins

Physicians with Grand River Health and friends of the hospital headed to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan last month as they gave exams to hundreds of patients during the two-week trip.
Klaus Kocher

After the tragic death of ER doctor Bill Bevins in the summer of 2016, his Grand River Health colleagues went on a philanthropic trip last month to keep his memory alive, visiting clinics in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, just as he had planned to.

Bevins had gone on several medical trips before he died on a hike near Glenwood Springs with his wife, Janice, on June 27, 2016. Those included trips to Kenya and Afghanistan. He planned to help set up a clinic in Kyrgyzstan, as well.

Grand River’s chief medical officer, Dr. Kevin Coleman, was one of eight doctors to make the trip last month. He said Bevins had planned to work in Kyrgyzstan for 11 months and keep GRH as a home hospital for the other month of the year.

Bevins died before his dream could be realized. He was 59 years old.

Following a memorial at GRH, a group of physicians gathered to discuss the possibility of going on a medical trip in his honor.

On the two-year anniversary of his death, from June 16 to June 30, the group was in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. While there, the crew supported two clinics, ran a medical caravan for several days and taught and gave lectures to the local students.

During the caravan, Coleman said they treated 270 people in two days.

Aside from treatment, Coleman said the trip was an eye-opening experience.

While the hospitals in Kyrgyzstan had access to lab technology such as MRIs, their access to quality health care providers was limited.

The general population in Kyrgyzstan makes around $6,000 a year, according to Coleman, but doctors are paid only around $2,500 annually.

Coleman said their two days in Kazakhstan were mostly spent giving lectures to medical students.

Through funds donated by the employees, Grand River Health donated thousands of dollars worth of medical equipment to clinics they visited during their trip.

Dr. Bob Derkash, a long-time orthopaedic surgeon in the valley, donated $10,000 worth of orthopedic equipment as well.

The hospital also donated a neonatal monitor for one of the pediatric hospitals they visited, as Kyrgyzstan’s infant mortality rate remains high.

GRH ER doctor Rakhat Ashymov, who accompanied Coleman on the trip, grew up in Kyrgyzstan before immigrating to the United States 10 years ago.

He worked in the ER with Bevins, but had no idea about the trip until after his death.

Ashymov said he was amazed by the fact that he moved to a small town in Colorado to find somebody heading to Kyrgyzstan.

“It was a great experience for me being from there,” he said. “Giving back to the community that I’m from was a great feeling.”

Ashymov lost a niece to hypothermia at one of the pediatric clinics the group visited, and the baby monitor was donated on behalf of his family.

“It was an amazing trip,” Coleman said. “Eight people came together to extend goodwill in Bill’s honor. He would have done a lot of good over there.”

Accompanying Coleman on the trip were Derkash, Ashymov, Klaus Kocher, a photographer and professor at CMC Glenwood, Bevins’ wife, Jan, Coleman’s daughter, Gabrielle, who is a pre-med student at Wheaton, and Vanderbilt physicians Anya Dvirnik and Matthew Fedbinger.

Coleman praised Jan’s commitment in making the trip, even putting her own health-care needs on hold to go.

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