Physician Video Profile: Katherine Kwon, MD (Nephrology)

I’m Dr. Katherine Kwon. I’m a specialist
in diseases of the kidney and also high blood pressure and I’m in practice at Lake Michigan
Nephrology. We’re in Saint Joseph at the Royalton Medical Center, we’re directly
across from the YMCA at Hollywood Rd. We also see patients in Niles, on Meadowbrook Lane
at our Dialysis Unit and at the Medical Center in Coloma. The kidneys are the focus of the
nephrologists. When you’re told you need to see a kidney doctor it can be really frightening
and overwhelming. Kidney disease is not well understood and instantly you’ve got a lot
of questions, fears and worries. I know that that’s a really important job that I have
there, to let them know that there is going to be a team that is helping them get through
these difficult times and educating them about their options. So when they come back and
having learned a little more and realize they are going to be okay. And we are going to
make them a customized plan to get them through this, that’s also rewarding. I grew up in
Washington D.C. but I returned to St. Joseph because my father grew up in Benton Harbor
and I have been coming here every summer in my life to see my grandmother. So, when I
got an email saying they were looking for a Nephrologist in St. Joseph, it seemed like
a great opportunity and I’ve now been here about 9 years. My husband Chris and I have
two boys, Jonathon and Alex. We love the lake, we love the beaches, and we love the fresh
fruits and vegetables in all the farm stands. It’s a nice pace of life in a community
that really values family time. I went to college at Swarthmore College in Philadelphia.
I did medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx in New York City.
I then did my residency in Internal Medicine and my fellowship in Nephrology at the University
of Virginia in Charlottesville. We see adults, from the age 18 and up and we go as high as
102 currently. A lot of the times when I’m meeting somebody, they feel fine and the reason
they have been sent to me is because their family doctor has noticed an abnormality on
the blood tests or urine tests that suggest there might be a problem with their kidneys.
So, they’re often surprised to hear they need a kidney doctor, but I am glad for the
primary care doctors being so diligent, because kidney disease can be silent without symptoms
for a long time and you can miss an important problem if you don’t have a family doctor
checking. I also have a High Blood Pressure Specialty Clinic, and there we see patients
who don’t necessarily have kidney disease but have difficult to treat high blood pressure
and we have been very successful with that. We started that clinic within the last year,
we’ve already helped over 100 patients to get their blood pressure to goal. I think
that we perform a very personalized approach to medicine. It’s a small office, and when
you come to our office, you’re greeted by name and our staff really treats you as family.
You will have the same physician seeing you in clinic every time. Our practice is on EPIC,
which is the electronic record that Lakeland has established and made available to most
of the primary care doctors in the area. And what that means, is within minutes of me seeing
a patient, their family doctor has my electronic notes sent to them. I can email the doctor
with any additional questions or comments, and so communication is seamless. And that
makes sure we are going to work exactly with your primary care team. The best part about
my job is that what I do everyday matters to the person sitting in front of me. Whenever
a patient tells me how much they appreciated the small things, it reminds me again, to
take the time to do those. And so, making sure that I speak compassionately but also
use language that they can understand and not retreat into doctor talk. To sit down
in the hospital room, to listen to patients talk about their grandchildren or their hopes
and plans for the future. They seem like small things and they can get lost in a busy medical
practice where you are trying to keep up with the latest scientific recommendations, but
that human touch is so important to patients and when they tell me how much they appreciate
it, it just reinforces my determination to try and bring that every day.

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