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From the Mission Field in Africa to the Medical Field in Florida

Posted on Feb 17, 2021

Drew Rideout, M.D., Ph.D., is the surgical director of the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s.
Drew Rideout, M.D., Ph.D., is the surgical director of the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s.

Drew Rideout, M.D., Ph.D., is the surgical director of the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. He specializes in minimally invasive surgery in newborns, children and adolescents and enjoys a focus in pediatric colorectal and pelvic reconstruction. He joined the pediatric surgery program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in 2013. He also helps lead the pediatric surgery service at Tampa General Hospital through an affiliation agreement with Johns Hopkins All Children’s.

His road to Florida and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital started in Africa, where he was born. Growing up in Nigeria where his parents were missionary teachers, he attended an international school there and eventually came to the United States to attend high school and college in New England.

What's something people might find surprising about you?

My first job out of college was teaching high school math and chemistry in Long Island, New York. I also coached the school’s soccer and wresting teams. Then I went back to school to get a degree in divinity. Eventually, I attended medical school in Long Island.

What motivated you to become a doctor?

When I was in Nigeria, I knew a missionary general surgeon, and was interested in what he did. I went back to Nigeria the summer before my senior year in college and spent time at the hospital I was born in. For 2½ months, I had the opportunity to work with a general surgeon there and that really confirmed what I wanted to do for a career.

How did you end up at All Children’s?

My wife’s family lived in the Tampa Bay area. I did my general surgery residency here. I spent a lot of time at Tampa General Hospital, and some time at Moffitt Cancer Center, the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, and Bay Pines VA Healthcare. I got to know many of the health systems in town pretty well.

When I joined Johns Hopkins All Children’s, I initially worked out of Tampa General where we started the pediatric surgery network. We currently provide care at Tampa General and Brandon Regional Hospital. Several of my surgical colleagues help provide great care at these locations.

In addition to the pediatric surgery service we provide at TGH, we also teach the USF general surgery residents. And of course, we are involved in providing surgical care at Johns Hopkins All Children’s in St. Petersburg, as well.

In the Intestinal Rehabilitation program, you work with neonatology, gastroenterology, nutritional services and other clinical specialties. Babies born with conditions such as gastroschisis — when a baby is born with the intestines outside the abdomen — or necrotizing enterocolitis — an infection of the intestines seen most commonly in premature babies — often didn’t survive in the past. What’s different now? 

Those babies need IV food until their intestines absorb nutrition better. We set up different feeding protocols with the IV foods over the past 10-15 years that are much gentler on the liver. We have different methods for helping give the baby time to grow and their intestines to adapt.

We look at all the different aspects of nutrition and motility for bowel and absorption, along with various surgical interventions. This team put together all the intestinal rehab protocols. Then six months later we went live with inpatients and started seeing all the NICU babies and pediatric patients. For any patient with short gut at the hospital, our team would be consulted. We would help manage their nutrition and adjust their feeds. Three years later we went live and currently run a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic.

The results have been phenomenal. Babies who used to leave the NICU with elevated bilirubin and injured livers now leave with almost perfect liver studies.

Because of this, our team has received quality awards for our clinical outcomes and for the simulation program we designed to give parents better specialized training. This helps them cope with various medical equipment (like G tubes) and better manage them when their children go home. It’s been better for the patient and increases parent satisfaction because they feel better equipped to care for their child. This also leads to fewer Emergency Center visits.

You still find time for medical mission trips several times a year. Why is that important to you?

One of my passions is medical missions, since I grew up in Africa. I’ve been back there, but the last few years I’ve been going to Honduras three to five times a year. Usually one week stints, sometimes longer, to work with other surgeons and physicians at a mission hospital where we provide pediatric surgery care. My goal is to support the work that is already going on there.

When you do international work, you are asked to do things that you might not be asked to do in your normal daily work because you might be the only physician there and the working conditions are much different than here in the United States. When you train in general surgery, you train to do a little bit of everything. When you get trained in pediatric surgery, you also get trained to do a little bit of everything. When I go to Africa and Honduras I might treat two-thirds adults and one-third kids. We have also built a fairly extensive colorectal program there.

That’s why I picked these specialties. Then it allowed me to get very broad training. So, when I do help out in developing countries, I have the background to be able to help with multiple areas not just what I do in a more limited practice back home.

What do you do to take your mind off work?

I’m the father of three children. Two in high school and one in college. I try to spend as much time with them and my wife as possible. During the summer, my wife and kids will often accompany me on the medical mission trips.
I am also a strong believer in exercise to stay healthy, so I participate in triathlons, do some trail biking and run in the Gasparilla Distance Classic most years.

Having spent some time living in the northeast, I’m still a Patriots fan, but having lived in Tampa for 17 years, and with the Tom Brady migration to Florida, I’m definitely a Tampa Bay Bucs fan, too.

What's the one thing you want your patients and families to know?

Every time I talk to families I say, “I want to take care of your child, like they’re my child. I want to give them the best care I possibly can.” I think that’s the mentality of everyone in my group and at the hospital. That goes a long way. It makes the parents feel comfortable and it’s the truth. You’re paying attention to all the details and you’re working collaboratively with everybody to deliver the best possible care for their child.

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