Page 11 - MIdWeek - Feb 24, 2021
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      Dr. Dona Brekke lived and practiced med- icine in Anchorage, Alaska, for about 14 years before relocating to Hawaiʻi, noting that it’s one of the most beautiful places she’s seen. But what makes Alaska beautiful — its remoteness — is also what makes it a challenge for people to get health care.
DR. DONA BREKKE, pediatric cardiologist at Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children Interviewed by Don Robbins
Getting To The Heart Of The Matter
 The adventurous Brekke shares that she also has a great interest in going to new places, learning about other cultures and being in nature.
piʻolani Medical Center is the only medical center that offers comprehensive cardiac ser- vices for children and young adults with heart problems and congenital heart defects. Every year, nearly 200 chil- dren are born in Hawaiʻi with heart disease of some kind, and congenital heart defects are one of the most common types of birth defects. Our pediatric cardiologists provide a variety of services and treatment for various pediatric heart con- ditions starting from before a baby is even born to adults with congenital heart defects. This includes prenatal consul- tations, intensive care support of life-threatening heart con- ditions, cardiac imaging pro- cedures, treatment of all sorts of congenital heart defects and arrhythmias, interventional cardiac catheterizations.
What extra steps are being taken during the pandemic? Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women & Children has many precautions and mea-
sures in place to help make it safe for our families to come to the medical center in person when needed for care, diagno- sis and support.
                    “One of the things that drew me to the position here in Hawai‘i is a similar need to provide care to those who may have challenges obtaining the medical support they need. We hope to build upon the ex- cellent pediatric heart health program here at Kapiʻolani,” Brekke shares.
This week, Brekke shares more about her career as a pediatric cardiologist and the heart center services at Ka- piʻolani Medical Center for Women & Children.
In-person visits for many of my patients and their families can help to lessen any stress they are feeling from being uncertain about a diagnosis or wondering about the long-term outcomes of their condition.
 “Our goal for the future is to expand our services, technol- ogy and resources through the opening of our Pediatric Heart Center so that most, if not all, of our pediatric patients can stay here at home where their family and support is without having to travel to the main- land for advanced cardiac care,” Brekke emphasizes.
I really was interested in physiology and understand- ing how biological systems worked down to the cellu- lar level. While in college, I worked in a pediatric office and found that medicine was a great combination of both my interest in physiology and the joy I have in being around people.
physiology very interesting and the patients and families’ interactions were so important. Families benefited from learn- ing about how their child and family could move forward to make the most meaningful life possible for everyone. For me, it was the right combination of science, education and patient interaction.
that information to the patient’s family to help them understand what this means. While part of this is defining the limitations on the patient due to the spe- cific diagnosis, which is never easy, I also focus on emphasiz- ing the positives for their child to help everyone realize they can all still have a happy and meaningful life.
As a result of the pandem- ic, we have also seen a tre- mendous growth in the use of telehealth. Video and phone visits are a convenient option for patients and their families, and are used in pediatric car- diology when appropriate de- pending on my patients’ health care needs.
What inspired you to pursue a medical degree?
Dr. Dona Brekke (right) enjoys working out the physiology of a patient’s condition. PHOTOS COURTESY HAWAI‘I PACIFIC HEALTH
While a normal cardiac eval- uation is always the happiest news to share with a patient and family, getting the news in person if they are diagnosed with a cardiac issue can be more reassuring for both the patient and family so we can move forward right away with an appropriate treatment plan.
What made you choose pedi- atric cardiology?
What do you love most about what you do?
February is American Heart Month. What would you like the public to know?
During my second year of residency training, I did a rota- tion in cardiology and every- thing just fit. I found cardiac
I really enjoy working out the physiology of a patient’s condition, finding the best way to manage it, and then taking
As Hawaiʻi’s only full-ser- vice specialty hospital for women and children, Ka-
 Caring for women and children like no one else in Hawai‘i.
As the only full-service specialty medical center of its kind in the state, we offer specialized care through video visits as well as in person.
You are why we’re reimagining health care. | #HealthierHawaii

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