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Published on January 15th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Project R.E.A.D.Y: The Brainchild of Dr. Raymond P. Bynoe, M.D.

Submitted by Dennis N. Cannon, Jr.:

On more days and nights than he can remember, Dr. Raymond P. Bynoe, Medical Director of Trauma Services for Palmetto Health Richland, has seen more than his fair share of carnage come through his emergency room doors. Palmetto Health Richland is a Level I Trauma Center and Dr. Bynoe and his trauma team have treated far too many young people who have been shot, stabbed, assaulted, and mangled because of poor decisions involving alcohol and drug abuse, gang violence, texting while driving, driving at excessive speeds and failing to wear a seat belt or helmet.

Something surely had to be done to get young people to understand that poor decisions can lead to devastating consequences and repercussions that are sometimes irreversible. Enter Project R.E.A.D.Y (Realistic, Education, About Dying Young), the brainchild of Raymond Bynoe. As a young doctor doing a rotation at a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, he observed a program that left an indelible impression on him. Parents of teens who were planning to attend prom night sponsored by the local high schools prevailed upon some of the medical staff to talk to their children about the dangers of risky behavior. The program was worthy of emulation and could be adapted and expanded to fit the culture of any community. When his path ultimately led him back to his hometown of Columbia, Dr. Bynoe found himself holding similar sessions with teens at the local high schools.

As a child, his father, the late Dr. Herbert Bynoe, M.D., took young Bynoe on his hospital rounds. The young doctor to be saw his father counsel and comfort people when they were in distress. He wanted to do something similar and decided he would give back to his community by educating young people about the harsh realities that could befall them when they partook of unwise and unwholesome conduct. The compassion that he saw in his father, the experience that he had with the Memphis program, and his interaction with high school students in Columbia were the seeds that grew into Project R.E.A.D.Y.

Project R.E.A.D.Y is an intervention program that introduces young people to simulated experiences in the trauma bay, rehabilitation center, and the morgue of Palmetto Health Richland. It represents a graphic and provocative look at risky behavior that is both shocking and riveting. If young people could see the broken bones, the disfigured bodies and the blood splattered entrails that resulted from dangerous activity then perhaps they would be deterred from making poor choices. With the full support and funding of Palmetto Health Richland, Dr. Bynoe has been putting on these sessions several times a year for nearly 25 years. Palmetto Health Richland has also hired a full time program coordinator to reach out to the community to solicit their participation in this extraordinary program. The project receives referrals from schools, churches, sororities, fraternities, and other civic organizations.

During his presentation, Dr. Bynoe holds the project participants at rapt attention as he explains the heartache he feels when telling parents that their son or daughter did not survive an accident, would never walk again, or suffered permanent brain damage. Some of the attendees are moved to tears as they grasp the reality of the devastation that poor decisions can cause not only to themselves but to their loved ones as well.

Many times participants in the program ask him if he has ever treated anyone famous. He responds that he has treated politicians, rock stars, and actors. The Secret Service has even requested him to be on standby whenever a United States president comes to the area in case of a medical emergency. However, Dr. Bynoe considers the woman who taught him in grades 3 through 5 as his most famous patient. She also happened to live in his neighborhood. Once she told his mother that he was not fully applying himself in school, which resulted in his having to go to summer school. He made considerable academic improvement because of this teacher. Many years later after he had been a practicing surgeon, his teacher informed him that she had a rather serious medical condition that required surgery. Though the doctors she had been seeing wanted to refer her to someone else, she wanted Dr. Bynoe to perform the surgery. When he was a small boy, he had struggled in her class, but with her help and prodding he ultimately excelled. She saw his potential early on and prompted him to give expression to the gifts that lay within him. She paid him the highest compliment by consulting with him during her time of need. For her trust and encouragement, Dr. Bynoe tells the Project R.E.A.D.Y participants that his former teacher was his most famous patient.

Not everyone was as encouraging on his journey toward becoming a doctor. Once during a conversation with his high school guidance counselor at a majority school during the late 1960’s, Bynoe told her he wanted to become a doctor. Expressing reservations, the guidance counselor suggested that he might want to consider doing something else. When he got home, he told his mother about the conversation. Fiercely protective of her youngest child, Martha Bynoe marched right back up to the school and unabashedly admonished the guidance counselor for telling her son that he could not be a doctor. Dr. Bynoe cautioned the Project R.E.A.D.Y participants to never allow anyone to rob them of their dreams or crush them to the ground.

When he graduated from medical school he returned to his high school with his medical degree firmly in hand and proudly displayed it to his former guidance counselor.

This writer had the good fortune to observe Dr. Bynoe first hand during a Project R.E.A.D.Y session held at Palmetto Health Richland. His presentation kept the attendees enthralled and enthused. While the participants represented a cross section of the community, Dr. Bynoe made a point of engaging young African American males in the activities of the program so that they could see the possibilities that existed for them if they applied themselves and avoided risky behavior. He also uses Project R.E.A.D.Y as a vehicle to inform young people about the many career opportunities, in addition to medical doctors, that exist in the healthcare field, such as anesthetists, medical lab technicians, and physical therapists.

Dr. Bynoe is a graduate of Lincoln University, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, the nation’s first HBCU and the alma mater of Thurgood Marshall, Langston Hughes, and Kwame Nkrumah. He earned his Doctor of Medicine Degree from the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina. He is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions including Dean’s Medal for Outstanding Faculty, Patients’ Choice Award, Compassionate Doctor Recognition, Distinguished School of Medicine Physician Alumni Award and the Freddy Award for outstanding community service.

He is married to Terri T. Bynoe and they are the proud parents of three sons, Darrell, Julien, and Greer.

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