Sometimes, the last 30 seconds of a conversation with one of his patients helps Dr. Steve Belinga “find the treasure” that leads to a successful diagnosis and treatment plan. So he makes sure he’s a good listener, even as his patients are walking out the door.
“Neurology is a fascinating field and diagnosing patients is like following a treasure map, walking through the path of their bodies and central or peripheral nervous systems,” Dr. Belinga says. “I get most of my clues from listening to the patients, so that is the most important part of my job. I want my patients to feel like I am listening to them as if they are members of my own family.”
Dr. Belinga says the history patients provide to him of their symptoms often contains the nugget he needs to make a possible diagnosis that he then confirms with tests. “I’ll listen to them and ask questions and walk through all of their history. And then, they might mention something in the last 30 seconds of our conversation that can completely change the picture.”
That’s why he believes communication is the key in patient/physician relationships.
Discovering something new everyday is what motivates Dr. Belinga. He’s also motivated by his desire to fight disease, which was sparked in him as a child when he contracted malaria in the Republic of Cameroon, the country in West Central Africa where he grew up.
“I was on IV meds for several days and was missing classes. I got angry against disease and promised myself I’d do something to fight it and help others fight it,” he says.
Dr. Belinga received his higher education in the United States. His bachelor’s degree is from Georgia State University, and he attended medical school at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. His residency in neurology was at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. “My father was committed that all of his children would be educated in America,” he says.
Dr. Belinga chose to establish his neurology practice at Mercy Fort Smith because of the need here and the hospital’s commitment to that service. “I’m excited to be a part of the effort to provide everything patients need for quality health care right here in Fort Smith,” he says.
Dr. Belinga says this is an exciting time for the field of neurology because more and more treatments are becoming available to neurological patients. “You can’t name an illness in neurology that doesn’t have some form of treatment today,” he says.