Making the Rounds with Dr. Jonathan Kiev

Variety, challenge of surgery are why Jonathan Kiev loves his job

Making the RoundsFor our latest installment of Making the Rounds, we chatted with Dr. Jonathan Kiev, a cardiothoracic surgeon at UK HealthCare. Dr. Kiev treats a wide variety of conditions, including lung cancer, hiatal hernias and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)w.

What kinds of patients do you see?

In Kentucky, we see a lot of patients with cancer – lung cancer and esophageal cancer especially. For these patients, we focus on early intervention, early diagnosis, early detection and early treatment so that the disease doesn’t take their life.

We also treat benign esophageal disease, acid reflux disease, hiatal hernias and benign lung disease. We see a lot coal miners and people who have illnesses that are related to occupational hazards whom we can help. We really cover the full gamut of patients: from those in the intensive care unit who need a consult, to people who are walking around but have something called hyperhidrosis or sweaty palms, which can be a disabling disease.

Why did you choose surgery as a specialty?

Surgery kind of chose me. I originally wanted to be a forensic pathologist. But then I went to medical school and I got into surgery and I said, “This is great!”

I found myself in a department that treats a wide breadth of things, and that just makes your day so much more fascinating. At the end of the day, even though you’re physically exhausted, your mind is still going. That to me is a fulfilling day.

What do you enjoy most about cardiothoracic surgery?

The fascinating thing is that it’s never the same. There’s nothing mundane, and something’s new every day. In Kentucky particularly, there’s a lot of disease that I can help treat and make huge impacts into people’s lives. That’s exciting to me.

The variability during the course of the week – being on call, talking about organ transplant, talking about lung cancer – it’s fascinating to me. Plus, being here at UK HealthCare, we work with so many different specialties, and my day can touch and be involved with these other experts. There’s always something to learn, and that’s the big thing about medicine: It’s always moving, and that kind of fits my personality.

In your role, you also train the next generation of surgeons and doctors. Tell us about that.

Being in academic medicine, I’m trying to be a role model for the guys behind me, the residents. I treat them as colleagues and I try to motivate them, and I think that’s what this environment encourages.

I had been in academics before and I’ve also been in private practice. Private practice was fun, but it didn’t involve teaching as much. Here, there’s an opportunity to really give these folks, the young folks, the gift that I think I have, which is a committed passion for the work we do.

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Making the Rounds with Dr. Kimberly Kaiser

UK team physician helps patients discover their inner-athlete

Making the RoundsWe caught up with Dr. Kim Kaiser for our latest Making the Rounds interview. Dr. Kaiser is a sports medicine physician at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine and is also a team physician for UK Athletics. She specializes in helping athletes and non-athletes alike get back to enjoying the activities they love.

What is a sports medicine physician?

As a sports medicine physician, I see kids and adults. I’m non-operative, so I do primary care sports medicine. We’re kind of a triage system for a lot of patients, so they’ll see us first. A lot of patients don’t need surgery, and we’re able to get them better by doing rehab and other treatments, such as injections.

If you do need surgery, then we connect you with the correct surgeon. For example, if you have a shoulder injury, you’re not going to see a knee surgeon. We’ll make sure you see the right person.

Tell us about being a team physician for the Wildcats.

Being with those athletes is really special for me. I played a lot of sports growing up, and I think that helps me to help them.

Our entire team really interacts very well with each other, and we try to take the best care of our athletes to help the fans get a good experience, too.

What is your patient-care philosophy?

I treat the patients like I want to be treated. I try to bring out the inner-athlete in everyone. I think everyone has an athlete within them, and we just need to bring that out. I see athletes, but I see non-athletes, too. I try to get them inspired to do something more active and athletic, and in turn, treat their injuries.

I treat everyone just like I would treat my mother, father or sibling. You’ll be treated just like our collegiate athletes, even if you’re not a collegiate athlete. Our goal is to get you back to you where you want to be, both from a personal standpoint and from a recreational standpoint.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I do sports medicine for a living and sports are also my hobby. I do a lot of things – I play in a couple volleyball leagues here in town, and I also like to trail run, go hiking and go climbing.

How would you spend your ideal weekend?

Sleeping in! Then going to work out. After that, I’d be going to the lake. Lake Cumberland is probably my favorite one.

Check out our video interview with Dr. Kaiser, where she tells us more about the comprehensive orthopaedic care offered at UK HealthCare.

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Making the Rounds with Dr. Andrew Kolodziej

The best part of this cardiologist’s job? Giving patients a second chance.

Making the RoundsFor our latest installment of Making the Rounds, we chatted with Dr. Andrew Kolodziej, a cardiologist at the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute who specializes in advanced heart failure, heart transplant and pulmonary hypertension.

What kinds of conditions do you treat?

I usually see patients who have heart failure and who require additional medicines to keep them going. Oftentimes, patients are referred to me after their doctors have exhausted all their means of treatment.

I also see pulmonary hypertension patients – patients with elevated pressures in the vessels of the lungs. Blood vessels in your lungs have a separate physiology and respond to different stresses in their own way. And ultimately that condition can result in heart failure. Hence my interest in both conditions, because they often go hand-in-hand.

When did you decide to pursue a career in medicine?

This really goes back to my junior high school years. There was a dramatic moment in my life where I was hit by a car crossing the street. I ended up in the emergency room, and luckily, nothing major happened to me. But the paramedics that literally picked me up off the ground made an impact on my life going forward.

That experience really interested me in taking care of patients, specifically in emergency medicine and critical-care situations – really sick patients. I became an emergency medical technician and then graduated to a paramedic position, which was always a stepping stone to something more. Ultimately, that was medical school.

When I went to medical school, I went toward cardiology. Heart doctors always get asked why we picked cardiology specifically. It’s partly the heart being the core and the soul of any human being, as well as the fact that the patient population is generally really sick. That really interested me.

How would you describe your patient-care philosophy?

Being a patient myself sort of put things in perspective for me. Approaching patients, I see myself in their position. I see my family in their position. And ultimately, it goes for all of my colleagues in the cardiology department: We approach our patients as part of our family.

Our patient population is very sick, and they stay with us for a long time. Hopefully we get to do something for their heart, either with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) – which is a device that replaces the function of a failing heart – or through heart transplant. Our patients stay with us for a long time, and I really get a chance to be a part of their family. I think that’s what makes me who I am.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is to take somebody who is essentially dying and giving them a second chance at life. When a patient gets an LVAD or a transplant and they’re discharged home, and then they get to walk their daughter down the aisle – that’s what makes me move forward. It’s the best part of what I do.

How do you spend your time away from work?

I do a lot of endurance sports. I’m actually a triathlete. I haven’t done too many official events, but that is really my hobby.

Living in Lexington, if you get out running, and if you run for two or three hours, it’s just so beautiful out there. Same thing goes for bike riding. You can go up to Richmond and back and make that 60-mile ride. It’s so beautiful, and it passes by so quickly. I was on a ride once, and there were a couple of young horses that just started racing with us. It was great.

What’s your favorite food?

I’m vegan, so I’ll try anything that is vegan. You can explore lots of different foods, and it’s as healthy as it can get. And there’s so many vegan options now and so much interest in it that people will make vegan food that tastes like meat. It literally looks and tastes look “regular food.” But it’s so much healthier, so you don’t feel guilty.

Check out our video interview with Dr. Kolodziej, where he tells us more about what makes the care teams at UK HealthCare so special.

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Making the Rounds with Dr. Aaron Hesselson

Meet Dr. Aaron Hesselson: engineering healthier heartbeats

Making the RoundsWe caught up with Dr. Aaron Hesselson for our latest Making the Rounds interview. Dr. Hesselson started at UK HealthCare this fall, bringing with him nearly 30 years of experience in cardiac electrophysiology. He now serves as the director of electrophysiologic services at UK. 

What types of conditions do you treat?

Electrophysiology covers all of the electrical aspects of the heart. That means I treat patients with abnormal heart rhythms. These can vary from slow heart rhythms to very rapid heart rhythms. Treatments for these conditions can range from simple monitoring and reassurance to medication and sometimes surgical procedures that can help manage or cure a certain problem.

How did your career in medicine begin?

I left college as a biomedical engineer and I was very interested in maintaining my medical background for my first job. I came across a job listing in the local newspaper that asked for a biomedical engineer to do research at a hospital in Newark, N.J.

So, rather than just sending my resume in, I decided I would show up in person. I just said, “Hey, I just happened to be in the area and I’m interested in this.” I had an initial interview and then a few more interviews, and then I got the job.

What’s the best part about being a doctor?

As an engineer, the technical aspects of the job are very appealing. But more important is the gratification we get from taking care of our patients.

Very few doctors can say that they can cure a medical issue, but in some cases we are able to do that as cardiac electrophysiologists. And that, to me, is very big. To see the appreciation of the family, patient – that makes it all worth it.

Is there an experience that has shaped your patient-care philosophy?

Yes – being a heart patient myself. When I was in college, even before I had any inkling that I wanted to go into medicine, I ended up in an intensive care unit with a fractured sternum and a bruised heart.

My experience then as a patient very much influences how I approach my patients now. I approach it from the standpoint that I’m that patient lying in the bed. The patient doesn’t know what’s going on or know the technology. They don’t know the technical terms and they don’t know what that end point is: When is my time here in the hospital going to end?

I try to anticipate what they’re thinking lying in bed because I was there. Hopefully I can anticipate their needs and their questions and make them that much more comfortable and reassured so that they know, “OK, we’ve got a plan and I feel good about it.”

Watch our video interview with Dr. Hesselson, where he explains why patients should feel confident coming to him for their care.

Next steps:

  • The UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute is a leader in diagnosing and treating abnormal heart rhythms. Learn more about Gill’s Heart Rhythm Program.
  • A new study about heart stents is in the news. Two of our experts explain what the study means and what patients and their loved ones should know.

How a 30-minute doctor’s visit inspired this surgeon’s career

Making the RoundsWe caught up with Dr. Chaitu Malempati, an orthopaedic surgeon with UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine who works at The Medical Center at Bowling Green, for our latest Making the Rounds interview.

Dr. Malempati is also the medical director and team physician for Western Kentucky University Athletics, a role that allows him to treat athletes from a variety of different sports.

What types of injuries do you treat?

In my clinic, I see most frequently shoulder and knee injuries. These can be acute injuries that are sports-related or work-related or they can be general chronic injuries caused by arthritis.

At Western Kentucky, I take care of all the sports teams and I travel with the football and men’s basketball teams. I do training room a couple times a week, seeing various athletes in all kinds of sports.

When is surgery recommended for an injury?

Although I’m a surgeon and I love surgery – that’s why I went into the field – I want people to have surgery only when the benefits outweigh the risks. I will do everything in my power to treat people non-surgically first. I really only like to do surgery when I know I can help someone with minimal risks.

What inspires you to go to work each day?

Helping people. Getting people back to the lifestyle or the function they were at before pain or decreased function took over. Getting people back to where they can do the things that make them happy and live the lifestyle that they want to live. That’s really what drives me and encourages me to come to work every day. Whether it be surgical or non-surgical treatment, just helping them get back to where they want to be.

There’s really nothing better than hearing a patient say that they’re doing better or that I helped them get back to playing sports or doing what they love. That’s what inspires me.

When did you decide to pursue medicine as a career?

To be honest, I didn’t know I wanted to do medicine at all when I was an undergrad at the University of Iowa. I played tennis there on scholarship and I hurt my shoulder between my junior and senior years. I went to see an orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Iowa, who I thought was great. He explained to me what the shoulder was, what the labrum was and why my injury was causing pain. And after that 30-minute visit, I realized that’s what I wanted to do.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I recently traveled to Italy, which was on my bucket list and was great. But if I could travel anywhere else, it would probably be Australia because there’s a lot of interesting stuff there – there’s the Outback, there’s the Great Barrier Reef and the people there seem very happy.

What’s your favorite food?

Pizza and pasta. Anything Italian.

How would your friends and family describe you?

Energetic, goofy. Someone who likes to enjoy life, who likes to have fun with anything I’m doing, whether it be related to work or not. I try to enjoy everything I do.

Watch our video interview with Dr. Malempati below, where he talks more about the integrative approach his practice offers patients to help treat a variety of orthopaedic injuries.

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Cancer is her fight, precision medicine is her weapon

Making the RoundsIn our latest Making the Rounds conversation, we had a chance to chat with Jill Kolesar, PharmD, a professor in the UK College of Pharmacy, co-director of the UK Markey Cancer Center Molecular Tumor Board and director of Markey’s Precision Medicine Clinic.

Dr. Kolesar came to UK HealthCare last year from the University of Wisconsin. Her research is focused on precision medicine, the field of finding new drugs to treat specific cancer mutations. 

Tell us about your precision medicine research.

Precision medicine is a type of treatment that targets a specific genetic mutation in a tumor. Clinical trials have shown that, if you have one of these mutations, not only will the precision medicine work better, but you’ll have fewer side effects. There’s no question that they’re better. Unfortunately, not everyone has a mutation that we have a drug for, but that’s really what we’re working on with our research.

My research is focused on finding new drugs. We look at particular mutations and then use different drugs to target those mutations to determine what the most effective therapy is.

What is the Molecular Tumor Board?

The Molecular Tumor Board brings these precision medicine options to patients and their doctors. The board is made up of doctors, pharmacists and scientists who are experts in genetic sequencing and the treatment of cancer. These people come together to look at each patient’s genetic report and make a treatment recommendation specific to that person.

It’s a real benefit to the patients of Kentucky and their physicians. The treating physician usually knows the patient much better, but the Molecular Tumor Board usually knows the genetics and the new treatments much better. It’s really a partnership between the physician, the patient and the Molecular Tumor Board.

What types of patients benefit most from the Molecular Tumor Board?

The types of patients that are candidates for the Molecular Tumor Board are patients with rare tumors, as well as patients who haven’t responded to standard therapies. And actually, patients with lung cancer can be seen by the tumor board after their initial diagnosis.

Why did you decide to pursue research?

When I was a junior in college, I saw a TV program on PBS about tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (white blood cells) and how they could be taken out of a patient and activated and then given back to make a positive impact.

And so that was the day I decided I was going into cancer research. I’ve never looked back and I’ve always been happy with that decision.

What do you do in spare time?

I like to garden, I like to travel, I like to cook – and I enjoy good food.

Check out our video interview with Dr. Kolesar, where she talks more about the benefits of the Molecular Tumor Board.

Next steps:

  • Watch our TV spot that features the work of our Molecular Tumor Board.
  • Markey is Kentucky’s only NCI-designated cancer center, providing world-class cancer care right here in the Commonwealth. Learn more about why patients choose Markey for their cancer treatment.
Making the Rounds with Dr. Vish Talwalkar

Ortho surgeon Vish Talwalkar on why he loves caring for kids

Making the RoundsWe sat down with Dr. Vishwas Talkwalkar, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Kentucky Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center – Lexington, for our latest Making the Rounds interview. Dr. Talwalkar is a native Kentuckian and grew up right here in Lexington. Today, he specializes in treating a variety of orthopaedic concerns in kids of all ages.

When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?

I became interested in medicine at a pretty young age. Based on some of the things that my parents tell me, they thought I was going to be a doctor starting when I was in fourth or fifth grade.

My initial long-term plan was to play professional football and then come back and go into medicine. But that didn’t work out, so I ended up going straight into medicine.

What conditions do you treat?

I like to say that the patients I take care of come in all sizes and in all shapes. We see infants within the first few hours of life all the way up to patients who are 21 and older who have orthopaedic conditions that require our care as adults.

We take care of problems like hip dysplasia and spinal deformities of all different kinds. We also see children with cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular conditions, children with developmental diseases like Legg-Calve-Perthes disease or Blount’s disease, and children with bow legs and knock knees.

That’s part of the beauty of pediatric orthopaedics: We get to take care of such a broad variety of patients.

Why do you enjoy treating kids?

I like to take care of children because they’re so resilient and they’re so much fun. Every day, they seem to have a different funny story, and every day when I come to work, it’s always a little bit different, which makes it fun.

Orthopaedics is great because it allows you to impact patients in ways that you can see the results of what you’ve done. And with kids, you can see the results as they continue to grow up, which is very gratifying.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

My ideal weekend would be in the fall, doing what I call the Kentucky Triple Crown: You get up in the morning and play golf, and then go to Keeneland in the afternoon, and then go to a Kentucky football game at night.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a doctor?

If I wasn’t a physician, I’d probably be a high school biology teacher and football coach.

How would your friends and family describe you?

Probably as pretty easy-going and interested in a lot of things. Pretty passionate about the things I do. And as somebody who’s a good listener.

Watch our video profile with Dr. Talwalkar, where he explains the special connection between UK HealthCare and Shriners and what it means for our patients.

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Making the Rounds with Dr. Emily Marcinkowski

Growing up around the operating room inspired this cancer surgeon

Making the RoundsOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we caught up with Dr. Emily Marcinkowski, a surgical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer, for our latest Making the Rounds interview.

Dr. Marcinkowski joined the Comprehensive Breast Care Center at the UK Markey Cancer Center after completing a fellowship at the City of Hope National Medical Center in California. 

Why did you decide to become a surgeon?

My mother was a scrub nurse, so I kind of grew up going to the operating room and spent a lot of time around the hospital. Whenever she was on call, I was on call.

I really liked surgery because you can really help people and help fix a problem. And I like the relationships that surgeons have with patients. People are very vulnerable when they come in, and you get to develop a relationship with them and truly have a pretty tight patient-doctor relationship.

How do you develop those relationships with your patients?

I really like to listen to them, listen to what their goals are. Women have very different opinions about their breasts. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, some women really want to keep their breasts, some women want to have their breasts removed and some women want to come in, get their therapy and get on with their lives.

It’s very different for each patient, and I think just sitting back and listening to their stories is important. Some patients have a very strong family history of cancer and because of that, their diagnosis frightens them very much. Just hearing that, it helps me individualize their care plan.

What does a typical day away from the office look like?

My husband and I usually go eat someplace new and fun for lunch, and then I usually work out in my garden. We bought a house with about an acre on it, which is more land than I’ve ever had. We have planter boxes all over, and the tomatoes have taken over the world.

And anything on Netflix, we’ll watch.

What’s your favorite food?

Mexican food. Or anything that involves cheese. There are few things that cheese won’t cure.

Check out our video interview with Dr. Marcinkowski, where she talks about the personalized, individualized care that Markey offers patients with breast cancer.

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Making the Rounds with Dr. Ryan Muchow

Dr. Ryan Muchow on the ‘amazing’ field of pediatric orthopaedics

Making the RoundsWe caught up with pediatric orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Ryan Muchow for our latest Making the Rounds conversation. Dr. Muchow works at Kentucky Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center – Lexington, where he specializes in hip surgery and hip preservation treatments. 

What conditions do you treat?

We treat the entirety of pediatric orthopaedics, from birth to the young adult years. We take care of all kinds of musculoskeletal injury and conditions.

We see kids at both the Shriners Hospital as well as the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Most of the kiddos that we work with at KCH are kids that come in in an urgent or emergent basis with an acute injury. We’re able to take care of them at a time of great need as they’ve broken bones or have been involved in a serious accident.

Most of those kids at Shriners were either born with a condition or have developed a condition. They’ve been living with it for some time, and it’s not necessarily an acute or urgent setting. But we get to meet them and help them through their journey with whatever condition they have.

What makes pediatric orthopaedics so enjoyable?

It’s this amazing field where we have the opportunity to restore activity to kids. One of the top motivations for a child is to be able to play, to be able to run around and do things carefree. And we have the ability and opportunity to come in at a special time of their life and provide that service or need to get them to a point where they can do that activity.

Why did you decide to pursue medicine as a career?

Medicine in some ways chose me. I was thinking about other interests in high school, and someone recommended to me that I look at medicine. I got involved in a program that led me into medical school. After that, it was kind of affirmation after affirmation of, “Hey, being with people is awesome, getting to do the sciences is awesome.” And so it all kind of came together in medicine.

Describe your ideal weekend.

I’d come home Friday night after work and make pizza with my wife and kids. We’d put the kids to bed and then watch a movie.

Saturday morning, I’d get up and go for a run with the family, pushing the kids and running with my wife. We’d go get donuts, and then we love to do things outside – hiking, running around and doing crazy kid stuff.

What’s your favorite food?

If I can have two favorite foods, I’d say I like pizza a lot and I also like steak a lot. Those are two completely different foods, but those are where I’d go.

Steak if I could have a nice meal out and pizza if I could do something every day of the week.

Check out our video interview with Dr. Muchow, where he tells us more about the comprehensive orthopaedic care provided by Shriners and KCH.

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Making the Rounds with Dr. Amit Patel

Dr. Amit Patel explains how he went from sculpture to surgery

Making the RoundsIn this week’s Making the Rounds conversation, we caught up with Dr. Amit Patel, a surgeon who specializes in reconstructive and cosmetic treatment of the head and neck. Dr. Patel sees a wide variety of patients, including those who have had cancer or traumatic injuries of the face, as well as individuals interested in cosmetic enhancements and rejuvenations of the nose, face and neck.

How did you become interested in medicine?

It’s been a little bit of an interesting path. I actually wanted to be an artist – a sculptor – when I was growing up. Then the summer between high school and college, I happened to work at a doctor’s office and really fell in love with it. Those two worlds pretty much collided, and the rest has been history.

How is being a surgeon similar to being an artist?

My patients become my artistic medium, if you will, and I approach them from an artistic standpoint. How can I best and most creatively solve the problem at hand? How can I put these patients back together and get them into the real world and have them not feel insecure, have them not feel like they’re different? That’s a very big part of my patient-care philosophy.

What experiences have most shaped your career?

One of the unique experiences that has shaped my career was when I became a patient myself. I had a skiing accident and spent a fair amount of time away from what I normally do, which is a lot of reconstructive surgery.

I frequently have to tell my patients to be patient with the process and to let a tincture of time take effect. Having to swallow that pill myself as a patient changed the way I approach things and the way I approach my patient care.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?

It’s the trust that develops between me and my patients. When they come to me – especially my reconstructive patients – they’re often in a place where they’ve kind of lost their sense of identity. The trust that they hand to me, I take to heart and I take a lot of pride in that. It’s something I really, really enjoy.

Check out our video interview with Dr. Patel, where he tells us more about the conditions he treats and how he gets to know his patients.

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