Poinciana Medical Center
June 15, 2018

Dr. Oral James came to Central Florida to be closer to family in Miami and along the East Coast -- and to make it easier for him to pursue one of his passions: giving back to the Caribbean community that raised him.

Born and raised in Jamaica, his childhood on the island influenced him heavily, and he's determined to return the favor by volunteering with a nonprofit organization that provides medical care to the region.

Dr. James' move also brought him to HCA's Poinciana Medical Center, where he's sharing his 30-plus years of experience in gastroenterology, hepatology and internal medicine.

He's practiced at various hospitals in Texas and the Caribbean and lectured as a clinical associate professor at the University of Texas Science Center at San Antonio.

In addition to being board-certified in gastroenterology and internal medicine, Dr. James is certified by the American Heart Association in Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support and by the American Red Cross in Basic Life Support. He also has his Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates certification.

He's a member of the American College of Gastroenterology, the American Gastroenterology Association, the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and the Texas Medical Association.

We spoke with Dr. James and asked him about his work at Poinciana Medical Center, along with his passion project, Heart to Heart World Mission.

I'm excited about the new piece of equipment we've acquired at Poinciana Medical Center -- an endoscopic ultrasound machine. This tool uses a camera on the inside of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to examine internal organs, allowing us to evaluate the pancreas biliary tract and lymph nodes around the GI tract. We can also visualize the deeper layers of the intestinal wall, which is very useful in assessing the stage of cancerous tumors and in finding gallstones in the bile duct. In addition, this procedure allows us to take biopsies of lymph nodes and the pancreas. Poinciana Medical Center is one of the few hospitals in our area to offer this procedure and I'm thrilled that Poinciana-area residents don't have to travel far to have this procedure done. With other advanced surgical procedures in my field such as Nissen Fundoplication, Stretta and LINX prosthesis, some patients with hiatal hernias would benefit from surgery. These new procedures also allow ample opportunities for professional growth.

The LINX procedure was FDA-approved in 2012 and augments the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) with a ring made up of a series of magnets. The magnets have sufficient attraction to increase the LES closure pressure, but also to permit food passage with swallowing. The patient should have absence of a large hiatal hernia for this procedure. Stretta, on the other hand, is an endoscopic procedure with a series of 56 treatments delivered across five levels with monopolar energy via a catheter. This increases the pressure at the LES. There is also another procedure called Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF) which also helps to tighten the LES.

Aside from medical treatments, I'm a huge advocate of nutrition and weight loss. More than 70 percent of diseases are related to diet, and obesity affects every part of the body. A healthy diet and regular exercise are key to preventing gallstones, pancreatitis and numerous other conditions.

The most common condition I encounter is gastroesophageal reflux, which is a condition closely associated with diet. Available treatments include lifestyle and dietary modifications as well as medications. Some patients with gastroesophageal reflux also develop hiatal hernias.

Growing up in Jamaica, I was always told, "You're going to become a doctor."

I kept those words in the back of mind as I worked my way through school. It was my family's faith in me that helped me make that prophecy come true. Now, I want to return the favor.

I work closely with a faith-based organization called Heart to Heart World Mission, a consortium of doctors, nurses and dentists as well as nonmedical professionals who volunteer to care for underserved patients in Caribbean countries, including Jamaica and Haiti. Heart to Heart teams bring their expertise, critically needed medications and a strong desire to give back to those less fortunate.

I've been going on mission trips with Heart to Heart for five years now and have had the opportunity to see and treat all types of patients.

Of course, we've all heard heartbreaking stories about impoverished countries. But seeing the effects of poverty firsthand has changed me as a person and as a doctor. I see this change the most in my bedside manner. Mission trips have allowed me to relate to people on a more empathetic level.

Dr. Oral James is a credentialed Gastroenterologist at Poinciana Medical Center. To learn more about Dr. James, search "James" on PoincianaMedicalCenter.com's "Find a Doctor" page or call (888) 253-8117.