Men Should See A Doc Yearly

By Dr. James Lumeng
Interviewed by Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - June 16, 2010
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Dr. James Lumeng
Chief medical officer of Hawaii Medical Center East

Where did you receive your schooling and training?

I went to college at University of Illinois and went to University of Southern California for medical school. I then returned to University of Illinois for my residency in internal medicine. Subsequently, I completed residency in pathology and had a joint appointment as associate professor in medicine and pathology at University of Chicago.

What year did you move to Hawaii?

In 1970, I was recruited by University of Hawaii when the four-year medical school program was started. The recruiter came to my office, gave me an airline ticket and told me to come out to Hawaii to take a look at the place. So I flew to Hawaii and stayed in Waikiki. When I looked down on Waikiki beach, I decided to move.

When did you start as CMO of HMC East?

I began to serve as chief medical officer about two years ago.

Dr. Lumeng (right) with HMC staff: chief nursing officer Maria Kostylo and administrator Paul Ross

What are your duties as CMO?

My CMO duties are varied and all-encompassing. I always need to balance the interests of the hospital, including physicians, nursing staff, patients, quality of care and hospital costs. I strive to ensure the HMC East environment is one in which people can enjoy their work and have a positive attitude in pursuing excellence.

Do you still have your private practice?

Yes, I have an internal medicine practice in Aina Haina. I find having a private practice helpful in my work as CMO. I am able to see how a hospital can serve the needs of physicians who practice here.

Besides here at HMC East, what have been some of the biggest changes in the health field since you started?

I think technology has changed medicine a lot. For example, recent advances in imaging, such as CT, MRI and ultrasound, have helped in identifying pathology, so physicians can treat illnesses much earlier. In addition, the advances in laboratory testing and the availability of new medications have allowed physicians to improve the outcome of treatment.

June is Men’s Health Month. Is there anything that men should be paying extra attention to?

Men should definitely be paying extra attention to their lifestyle choices.

Lifestyle choices involving smoking, drinking, exercise or diet are directly related to their overall health. It is often characteristic of men to not want to seek help. This often means that men delay seeing a doctor until they are real sick. As a result, they can have advanced diseases by the time they do see a doctor.

In general, how often should men get physicals or checkups?

It all depends on their age, genetic makeup, current health and lifestyle. I recommend that men see their personal physician at least once a year. Annual exams and laboratory tests are important because they will help to pick up on any illnesses early. There also are a few numbers that men need to know, including their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol profile.

Are there any diseases or illnesses on the rise that men often overlook or that go unnoticed?

Obesity is affecting more and more men, and diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are growing problems. These medical problems can lead to stroke. Stroke can be prevented by controlling blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, in addition to choosing not to smoke. Lifestyle choices always need to be addressed. Good diet and adequate exercise can be superior to medication. In some scientific studies with diabetic patients, it has been found that diet and exercise can do a better job in controlling diabetes than medication.

Is there anything new or exciting happening at HMC East?

HMC will be emerging from bankruptcy shortly, so that’s great. The next step is to upgrade the facilities. We at HMC East are still going to be working very hard to ensure patient safety and quality care. HMC East will continue to expand its programs at the Liver Center and on the treatment of cancer. Also, the transplant program continues to have extremely good results.

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