A self-described Brooklyn “local boy,” Dr. Trevor Dixon moved from Christiana, Manchester, Jamaica native to the United States when he was 10 years old. He was exposed to the medical field early through his mother, a nurse, and his sister, also a healthcare professional. After graduating from SUNY Downstate in 1994, Trevor began working at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County as an echocardiograph technician. At the time, his role was with a union called DC-37, an organization that would one day become known as the Physician Affiliate Group of New York.
“I decided I wanted to attend medical school after being strongly encouraged by one of the Cardiology Fellows, Dr. Hirak Sen,” said Dr. Dixon. “Working at King’s County and being a local boy, I wanted to see how I could further my education to help my people.”
With a Bachelor of Science degree in ultrasounds, Dr. Dixon enrolled in Columbia University’s Post Baccalaureate Program. For two years, he “worked through the day, then hopped on the 1 train to take courses at night,” said Dr. Dixon. He acknowledges that he would not have been able to complete the program without the help of his mother. “My mother helped me to pay for Columbia,” Dr. Dixon said. “I could not have done it without her support.”
After completing his program, Columbia professor and Head of Diversity Dr. Gerald Thompson encouraged him to apply to medical school. "Dr. Thompson knew there weren’t many underrepresented minorities in the medical field at the time; he wanted to be sure I applied,” said Dr. Dixon.
In 1999, Dr. Dixon began attending New Jersey Medical School in Newark. Dr. Dixon explained that he chose New Jersey Medical School because the student body was more reflective of the communities he aimed to serve, and because he developed a rapport with admissions counselor Lonnie Wright during his interview: “I knew I would have his support.” He recalled seeing a fellow student from New Jersey Medical School at an event protesting the murder of Amadou Diallo, a Bronx man who was shot 41 times by police officers in 1999: “I saw the faculty and students engaged in the community and speaking out against injustice. I knew it would be a good fit for me.” The student protester was Dr. Roger Mitchell, Jr., who would later become the Medical Examiner for Washington D.C. and Chairman of Pathology at Howard University.
After medical school, Dr. Dixon completed his residency at H+H/Kings County in emergency medicine. While working as an ultrasound technician at Kings County Hospital early in his career, Dr. Dixon learned there was a clear connection between Kings County and Kingston Public Hospital (KPH). “To me, Kings County Hospital and KPH were synonymous,” said Dr. Dixon. “Many Jamaican immigrants come from KPH to Kings County because they know they will receive more advanced services and care.” After completing his training, Dr. Dixon wanted to return to Jamaica to help.
Dr. Dixon traveled to KPH in 2006 to assess the hospital’s needs, where he met Dr. Hugh Wong, Director of the Accident & Emergency Department. While eager to help treat patients, he didn’t expect the challenge Dr. Wong posed. In their first interaction, Dr. Wong candidly asked Dr. Dixon “if he would be like the ‘other’ doctors who come with big promises to help and never return.” This was a profound moment for Dr. Dixon. As he prepared to leave KPH, he shared his contact information with Dr. Wong, assuring him that he would remain available to help in any way he could. Dr. Dixon has kept his promise to this day.
In 2008, Dr. Dixon held the first Emergency Ultrasound Conference at KPH. The conference was an opportunity for health professionals in Jamaica to learn how to use emergency ultrasound equipment to save lives, but Dr. Dixon uncovered a flaw in its format: participating doctors were frequently pulled away to treat emergencies. He realized that if he expanded and improved the conference’s format, doctors could complete the program and walk away with improved skills and competencies. To do so, he needed to raise funds. That year, Dr. Dixon founded Jamaicans Abroad Helping Jamaicans at Home (JAHJAH) Foundation. Fifteen years later, the JAHJAH Foundation hosts approximately 25 doctors from across the island for two days each year to focus solely on emergency and critical care ultrasounds.
Despite his demanding role as Director of Emergency Ultrasound at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi and North Central Bronx, Dr. Dixon has continued his commitment to training healthcare providers in Jamaica through JAHJAH. Physicians from H+H/Jacobi have played an instrumental role in providing support to the JAHJAH Foundation. Physicians from H+H/Jacobi’s Emergency Department assist in presenting lectures for the two-day Annual Emergency Point of Care Ultrasound and Critical Care Workshop. Dr. Dixon also leads a team of over 40 medical professionals from the United States to volunteer in Jamaica, where they conduct health fairs in schools and communities over a one-week period, an initiative dubbed “Mission for Change.”
"Jamaica holds a special place in my heart and therefore I focus my initiatives on bettering the lives of the underserved citizens of this beautiful island," said Dr. Dixon.
In August 2023, Dr. Dixon was honored with the President’s Award of Excellence from the National Medical Association for his commitment to Jamaica and its people, specifically his work in emergency medicine and humanitarian efforts through the JAHJAH Foundation. Dr. Dixon also received the Dr. Wes Curry Award in Social Justice, which recognizes innovation, collaboration, and culture building by diverse healthcare leaders. It is in the spirit of collaboration and innovation that Dr. Dixon continues to expand the JAHJAH Foundation.
The JAHJAH Foundation continues to partner with H+H/Jacobi and Jamaica’s Public Hospitals, most recently on the Jamaica Hand-Held Ultrasound Project (JHUP). “I wanted to bring access to this new technology to Jamaica to make it feasible for clinicians at a patient’s bedside to have access to the rapid diagnostics that ultrasounds provide,” said Dr. Dixon. “It is amazing the health problems we are able to address that would not be possible without proper ultrasounds.”
Dr. Dixon is grateful for every PAGNY provider who has volunteered their time to serve JAHJAH’s mission and encourages more to do so. “I joined PAGNY because of its commitment to the underserved and underrepresented communities,” said Dr. Dixon. “My PAGNY colleagues have been a tremendous help and I am truly grateful.”
The JAHJAH Foundation is now creating an Emergency Medical Service program in Negril, Jamaica. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, JAHJAH—in collaboration with the Negril Chamber of Commerce and a team of air force rescue EMTs from Unit 669 in Israel—trained 25 local firefighters, police officers, ancillary healthcare workers, and community members in first responder medical care. This project became the Jamaica Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) Negril program. “I dare to dream that we can do better, and I don’t take no for an answer,” said Dr. Dixon.
The JAHJAH Foundation is holding a fundraiser on Novembere 4, 2023. For more information about the organization, to become a volunteer, or to donate, please contact Dr. Trevor Dixon at email@example.com.