Meet Two Roper St. Francis Berkeley Hospital OB/GYNs (Who Happen to Be Husband and Wife)

Drs. Felix Akinbote and Joye Fordham rely on teamwork both at home and at the office, where they deliver Berkeley County’s newest residents

(Left to right) Jonah Fordham, Dr. Joye Fordham, Olu Fordham, and Dr. Felix Fordham

Written by Stratton Lawrence
Photographs by Mira Adwell

An OB/GYN practice often takes on a familial atmosphere, thanks to the steady stream of pregnant women, supportive partners and children flowing through its doors. It’s an atmosphere that suits Drs. Joye Fordham and Felix Akinbote, a wife-and-husband team who deliver babies at Roper St. Francis Berkeley Hospital.

Drs. Fordham and Akinbote met during their first week of medical school at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, and their careers and personal lives have been tightly wound ever since.

“I was immediately attracted to her intelligence,” says Dr. Akinbote of his wife. “Not to mention her beauty.” Frequent study sessions grew quickly into a serious relationship. And in 2011, after their first year of residency in Memphis, Tennessee, they got married in Charleston, Dr. Fordham’s hometown—planting the seed to one day return when their career paths allowed.

In 2014, the couple and their first son (Olu, now age 7) moved to Conway, South Carolina, bringing the family one step closer to the Lowcountry. On a visit to see Dr. Fordham’s family, they attended the annual Flowertown Festival in Summerville. Dr. Akinbote, who was born in Nigeria and raised in Atlanta after his organic chemist father immigrated to the U.S., fell in love with Summerville’s small-town charm.

“I was blown away,” he recalls. “It reminded me of downtown Charleston without the hustle and bustle. I said, ‘I’ve got to live here one day.’” That dream came true in 2018, when the couple spotted a listing for two OB/GYN jobs with Roper St. Francis Healthcare serving the Berkeley County community. “We wanted to live in the same neighborhood where we worked,” says Dr. Fordham, still marveling that the pieces fell into place.

ALL SMILES HERE! In their time off, Drs. Joye Fordham and Felix Akinbote take advantage of Summerville’s family-friendly fun, like Third Thursdays and weekend farmers markets.

Today, the family (which includes Olu’s 3-year-old brother, Jonah) is settled in a historic Victorian home in downtown Summerville, with no intention of ever moving again. On Saturday mornings, they walk to the farmers market together. They rarely miss a Third Thursday, when the town’s Hutchinson Square comes alive with live music and food trucks. Their sons’ schools are in the neighborhood, and Olu plays on the Charleston Battery’s Summerville rec league team, which makes dad particularly proud—Dr. Akinbote grew up cheering for Manchester United, and he’s a big fan of the Atlanta United FC MLS team.

Dr. Fordham didn’t leave for college with plans to move back home, but the combination of the Lowcountry’s growing appeal (the couple savors their date nights to Chez Nous and The Ordinary downtown) and the close proximity of family made it an easy decision for her. She did, however, leave home knowing she wanted to pursue medicine. A St. Andrew’s Parish High School alum, Dr. Fordham’s path to obstetrics began when she volunteered in the labor and delivery department of Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital. Her interest in the specialty grew stronger during medical school. “I loved being a part of the labor and delivery process and quickly realized it was one of the happiest times in a woman’s life,” explains Dr. Fordham. “I also liked the combo of working in an office setting and spending time performing surgery.”

Dr. Akinbote’s route was a bit more fortuitous. His early interest in STEM subjects led him to major in biology at the University of Georgia, and involvement in student health clubs introduced him to medicine. During his third year at Loyola, he chose OB/GYN over pediatrics and family medicine. “I knew I wanted to work with kids, but it took actually being in the hospital on clinical rotations—not just studying and listening to lectures—for me to realize this was the best fit for me,” he explains.

Drs. Fordham and Akinbote are the two full-time OB/GYN providers based at Roper St. Francis Berkeley Hospital, roles they cherish on a personal and professional level. “This is our community. These are our neighbors,” says Dr. Fordham. “It’s a privilege that we’re able to provide care for our fellow community members and that we’ll get to run into the children we deliver while out and about in the years and decades to come.”

For a pair of busy obstetricians and parents, creating time for family outings—not to mention meals—requires teamwork. Being in the same practice guarantees that only one parent is on call at once, but that means they’re often tagging out from one shift to another. When Dr. Fordham is on call for 24 hours, Dr. Akinbote may come home from the office to fix dinner and get the children to bed, and then also be a solo parent in the morning on the way out the door. “It requires organization,” says Dr. Akinbote. “You don’t just show up at home and try to figure out what dinner is—you’ve thought about that well in advance.”

(Left) Drs. Joye Fordham and Felix Akinbote take advantage of Summerville’s family-friendly fun; (right) In high school, Dr. Fordham volunteered on the labor and delivery floor of Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital.

When schedules allow, Dr. Fordham handles most of the cooking; jerk chicken, coconut rice and short ribs are family favorites in the rotation. “We’re big on delicious,” she laughs. Dr. Akinbote handles more of the day-to-day management of the household. “It’s all about using the strengths of one person to help the other, both at home and at work,” he says, noting one of his wife’s most impressive talents: “Joye is able to remember literally everything about her patients—random details they discussed years ago. I’ve always admired it!”

While the couple maintains appropriate professionalism at work—you won’t hear Dr. Akinbote referring to Dr. Fordham as Joye on the job—the fact that they’re in the same space doing the same work means they seamlessly rely on one another nearly all day, every day. It’s a level of trust and teamwork that’s an asset to their own family as well as to the mothers, babies and families of Berkeley County that they care for.

Names: Dr. Felix Akinbote & Dr. Joye Fordham
Specialty: OB/GYN
Practice: Roper St. Francis Physician Partners OB/GYN
Outside the office, find them: Spending time with their sons, Jonah and Olu, out and about in Summerville

 

Photograph (volunteering) courtesy of Dr. Fordham

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