Although both of my parents grew up in Hawaii, I was born and raised on the East Coast, as my father began his medical education and career as a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. I grew up with a vibrant and creative mother and a father who viewed life in a gentle and joyful manner. For years, I enjoyed watching him work in his research lab, in the lecture halls or at annual dinner parties at our home surrounded by medical students and residents. He suggested I enter Smith College as a pre-medical music major, believing this would address my dual interests in science and music. After 20 years of life on the U.S. Mainland, my parents decided to return “home” to Hawaii. In 1986, my husband and I moved to Kona, and we are thankful for the deep connections we have developed in the close-knit mauka community of South Kona.
During medical school at University of Hawaii, I met my husband who was an internal medicine resident. He was to become my inspiration and mentor in internal medicine during medical school, residency and our subsequent 20-year private practice in Kona. Although appreciative of the experiences gained in private practice, I was grateful for the opportunity to join the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group at Kona clinic in 2004. The Hawaii Permanente Medical Group has the vision, ability and drive to fulfill my dreams of providing comprehensive care to the West Hawaii community. Its core values of compassion, innovation and excellence resonate with my belief that these qualities are vital to the survival and future of our profession, as we take the best “art in medicine” practices of the past and the knowledge and technology of the present to mold an effective health care model for the future. My philosophy of care is based on the principles of palliative care. Palliative care is the complete care of those living with advanced incurable diseases or facing critical illnesses where the goal is to achieve the best possible quality of life through the relief of suffering. Its principles include respect for an individual’s values and beliefs, and care based on a bio-psychosocial and spiritual health model that includes family and support systems. To me, these are universal values. As a physician, I have the opportunity to view the world through the eyes of my patients. When I enter their worlds, I focus on listening and identifying with their concerns before presenting any recommendations. I find comfort, strength and inspiration as I witness the dreams, tears and joys of everyday people facing the challenges and struggles of their lives. The most profound gratification is to care for a patient from health through life’s end and to later re-connect with their children or grandchildren perhaps many years later.
I believe that wellness is a lifelong journey to achieve the best state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Wellness involves exercising, eating heart-healthy foods, learning how to manage your thoughts and feelings and staying connected to people. I try to balance home and work responsibilities, and focus on what is important instead of what is beyond my capabilities at that particular time. My goal is to stay mindful of the unexpected moments in life, both good and bad, find contentment in my personal and professional lives, and maintain my passion for my children and music.