Iheanacho Emeruwa never planned to come to America… Born in Pankshin Plateau Sate Nigeria to Parents from Ovim in present day Abia State, His first language was Hausa. Acho as he is fondly called by family and friends, had his early primary education in Dengi and St. Paul Jenta , Jos. He then proceeded to Government College Afikpo in January of 1966 for his Secondary Education graduating with honors in 1971 after the civil war.
When Acho finished Secondary School he applied to several Universities in Nigeria including University of Nigeria Nsukka, University of Ibadan and University of Lagos but was not accepted into any of those schools.
Determined to pursue his dream of becoming a Medical Doctor he came to America in January 1974 on the invitation of his uncle, a college Professor that was then living in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Emeruwa obtained his B.Sc. Summa Cum Laude at Edinboro State College, Pennsylvania in December 1976. He was accepted to Howard University College of Medicine in August 1977 and obtained his MD degree in 3 years graduating with honors (AOA).
He completed post graduate education in Internal Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology. Because of his extensive experience in Emergency Medicine, he was an active candidate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He passed the written examination but did not complete the oral examination.
He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine as well as the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He has taught medical students and postgraduate physicians in Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Emergency Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the American College of Physicians
Dr. Emeruwa has served as an Associate Medical Director of the Baltimore City Jail; a Special Clinical Fellow in the Department of OB/GYN, King Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles; Chief Resident in the Department of Internal Medicine of Howard University Hospital Washington, D.C. and Executive Chief Resident of the Dept. of OB/GYN King-Drew Medical Center. He had Attending Staff Privileges at the 22nd Strategic Air Command Hospital at March Air Force Base, CA. He was the OB/GYN Consultant for the California Department of Corrections at the California Institution For Women at Frontera, CA. He has served on the Medical Staff Executive Committees and chaired the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Riverside Community Hospital, Parkview Community Hospital and Corona Regional Medical Center in California.
He is a member of many civil organizations including ACLU and Common Cause. He is a Chartered Life Member of the Howard University Medical Alumni Association and an Old Boy of Government Secondary School Afikpo. He was listed in WHO IS WHO among students in American Universities and Colleges in 1976.
He was an initial organizer and a member of the Board of Directors of Premier Service Bank (a Community Bank established September 2001) in Riverside CA.
Dr. Emeruwa is the Co-Founder (with his wife Meg) and First Executive Director of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas, Inc. (ANPA, Inc.). He is currently, the Chairman of ANPA’s Awards Committee. He is the CEO & Medical Director of Aspen Medical group Inc., an OB/GYN, Internal Medicine & Pediatrics practice providing primary Healthcare in Riverside and Corona.
Dr. Emeruwa is licensed in the State of Maryland, the District of Columbia and the State of California. He is currently in Private Practice in Riverside, California.
He is passionate about Civil and Human Rights and providing care to the medically indigent. He is very active in the Nigeria Community and a well respected philanthropist who has been recognized by the Community with many awards.He loves his work so much, he would do it for food and board.
Dr. Emeruwa is married to Engineer Magdalen (nee Obi)M.Sc (Chemical Engineering) and they have three children Iheanacho Obinnaya Emeruwa,MD,MBA Ukachi Nnennaya Emeruwa,MD,MPH and Ezinne Ngwamma,MD,MPH.
In this interview with our Publisher- Chike Nweke, Dr. Emeruwa and his wife Mrs. Magdalen Emeruwa talk about a range of issues including the journey to their American dream, raising up their three very successful children and founding their new focus and venture – The African Primary Healthcare Foundation through which they intend to impact on lives in Africa especially in Nigeria in the areas of health care and Education-
Q-Mrs. Emeruwa, I know it is traditional to ask the man how he met his wife but today I am going to reverse that role- tell us how you met your husband?
In 1980, I was a young Chemical Engineering Student at Syracuse University. That Fall, new students were arriving from Nigeria but some were late and had missed the opportunity to secure housing. I volunteered to accommodate the lady amongst the group. She had been with me for two months waiting and hunting for an apartment after school hours. An emergency situation arose and she had to depart to be with her siblings in Maryland. She later enrolled to finish her education in Washington, D.C. As a token of appreciation for being a big sister to the young woman, her family invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them. Although we were all in a festive mood, I was also mindful that I had a mathematics exam immediately upon arrival back to campus. In the midst of all the joyous activities, I could find time to sit behind everyone in the room, working through my math exercises. A young man approached the table, curiously wanting to know who I am. That evening, I reluctantly followed everyone to a party in town, but soon decided to excuse myself. I was after all supposed to fly back early next morning to Syracuse. So, a Good Samaritan who had inquired about me earlier in the day, volunteered to give me a ride back to the apartment. He again volunteered to drive me to the airport that morning. I safely got back to my apartment a few hours later. Just minutes into entering my room I received a call from the Good Samaritan, who happens to be Dr. Iheanacho Emeruwa, my husband of now 33 years.
Q-Dr. Acho- You often say that Meg is instrumental to the raising of your three very successful children, who not only are medical Doctors but all graduated from Ivy league schools in America. For the benefit of young parents like us, please tell us the challenges you faced in raising up your children and how you overcame those to make them the very successful children they are today.
The biggest challenge we had was childcare. We had to make sure that our children were taken care of. At the beginning both Meg and I worked and we had to rely on hired childcare. As a result we had problems with reliability and consistency of childcare. We also had cultural differences with our childcare providers. So, Meg had to stop working because it became very difficult to care for the children while both of us were working. As the children were growing up, we also participated very actively in their schooling, being sure that when they came home after school, we looked over their homework and we prohibited them from watching television during the week. The weekend belonged to them but we also required that they spent at least one or two hours reading and doing their Math. Also, they participated in extra curricula activities, like attending Igbo lessons, Piano lessons, playing basketball and soccer, attending birthday parties. They also coached basketball at the YMCA. During the holidays, we reminded them that they had to continue to learn not only what they had done the previous semester but to prepare for the coming semester so that if they are going from Addition and Subtraction to Multiplication and Division we made sure we prepared them for the coming year.
Q-Dr. Acho- You founded ASPEN Medical Group in 1988 and now operate from three locations in Corona,Riverside and Moreno Valley. Your wife is the administrator of the Medical Group. You have made a huge success of your medical practice with your wife as the administrator. How have you successfully worked with your spouse these past 28 years?
Working with your spouse is not easy and it has its own challenges. But over time you learn to have a clear separation of responsibilities such that each of you knows their area of expertise and decision making.. It definitely creates interpersonal difficulties with some of my colleagues sensing that my spouse is also the manager and I have to be very cognizant of that fact and respect some of their apprehensions. But over time I make them realize that it is important that we focus on the most important objective which is the growth of the Medical Group as an organization.. I do focus on the Medical and Clinical part of the practice, handling the physicians and other Medical Providers while Meg handles all the administrative responsibilities of credentialing, insurance, human resources and other types of issues.
Q- Dr. Acho & Mrs. Emeruwa- The African Primary Healthcare Foundation is your new venture through which you intend to impact on lives in Africa especially in Nigeria in the areas of health care and Education. What led you to establish this foundation and knowing the enormity of health care and education challenges in Africa, how do you intend to make a meaningful impact?
African Primary Healthcare Foundation was founded in order to enable us and our children who are all physicians in different specialties to contribute to healthcare in Africa. With the contacts our children have, our son at Columbia, our daughter at Harvard and our youngest daughter at Stanford, we thought that creating a Foundation that they can be involved in will enable them leverage their relationships in these institutions for healthcare in Africa. Further more, we believe that providing care through African Primary Healthcare Foundation model could be an exampler to the community we come from and to Nigerians at large, as to what a good healthcare system can be. We also want to participate in Education because we truly believe that education is the key to not only economic success but also to a healthier and fuller life. We are particularly interested in the education of young people but especially young women . One of my own interests because I was born in the North is to see if through African Primary Healthcare Foundation we can provide education for girls in Northern Nigeria. It is therefore, one of the missions of African Primary Healthcare Foundation to reach out beyond my home town in Abia State to other States in the North.
Q-Dr. Acho & Mrs. Emeruwa- What advise will you give to a young immigrant from Africa about achieving success in America?
The secret to our success is hard work and staying focused to our primary objective, whether it is in our business or in raising our children. I will also recommend that any young African trying to succeed in America should remain part of his or her community because survivng in the larger community requires a network of support that you can share your successes and your challenges with.