From infant nutrition to chronic disease management, Dr. Kaba helps patients find custom solutions.
Christina Kaba, MD, has two children, aged 10 months and three years, and she had both of them while in the UCLA Internal Medicine residency program.
“I had no idea how I was going to breastfeed or pump at work: Was it going to be impossible? Was it something that was important to me?” she says. “The conversation around breastmilk versus formula is really charged! Parents end up feeling stigmatized either way.”
Lactation medicine is usually left to doctors who practice Pediatrics, Family Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynecology, but Dr. Kaba’s personal experience as a working mother helped her see how Internal Medicine physicians could also contribute to this care.
“There wasn’t a lot of focus on the lactating partner’s health in that first year raising a newborn. There’s so much you have to cover around the baby — some of that is around feeding, but there’s not much time for other concerns.”
Dr. Kaba is now board certified and practicing at Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed) Northgate, where she’s excited to collaborate with colleagues in Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Obstetrics to help cover all aspects of patients’ lives. That could mean scheduling appointments for parent and child back-to-back, or arranging a virtual visit when the newborn is (hopefully) napping.
Keys to a healthy lifestyle at any age
“Fed is first,” a mantra in newborn nutrition, aims to reduce stigma around breastmilk and formula, by emphasizing that feeding the baby is most important. Dr. Kaba applies a similar approach to nutrition and fitness in her adult patients.
“The best exercise is whatever you think you can do regularly,” she says. “And if we can change your daily diet to something sustainable for you, that’s the foundation for so much of our health.”
Dr. Kaba became more interested in the specifics of clinical nutrition during her UCLA residency, studying data and goal-setting strategies to care for common diseases like hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes through lifestyle changes.
“The path to a healthy lifestyle is different for everyone. I ask my patients about their background, their work and living situation, their income level and medical conditions. There’s a lot of stigma around weight, and that can be really demoralizing,” she says. “Pharmaceutical treatments are also part of the conversation, whether that’s to treat the disease or to help with weight loss.”
With chronic diseases, it can take time to find all the contributing factors to chronic diseases. Sometimes these concerns are addressed in an annual physical exam, but Dr. Kaba is also happy to schedule extra appointments with her patients to go into more depth.
“Since starting my practice on October 1 I’ve already had patients come in for a first visit, and then schedule a follow-up to talk about nutrition once we discover it’s a shared priority for both of us.”
After 35 years at his own private practice, Dr. McLaughlin is continuing care at PacMed Federal Way.
When Robert McLaughlin, MD moved to Federal Way in 1986, he brought a little bit of rural Illinois with him.
“I grew up in a small Midwestern town with one family doctor,” he explains, “And when I established a private practice in Federal Way I had a similar philosophy: care for everyone in the community, for whatever concerns they may have.”
After 35 years operating a walk-in clinic for local families, Dr. McLaughlin has moved his practice to Pacific Medical Centers Federal Way. His patients say they still feel like they’re getting that small-town service.
“Even if it’s a big fancy building, they still get to see good old Dr. McLaughlin,” he says. “PacMed has been great. I still feel like I’m working for myself, not a big conglomeration, and patients continue to be our top priority.”
35 years in Federal Way
Dr. McLaughlin still sees patients he’s known for three decades, as well as their children, grandchildren — and new patients too.
“I have one patient who tells me the same thing every time she sees me. She says, ‘thank you for saving my life.’” 20 years ago Dr. McLaughlin told her she was going to die unless she quit smoking, and she says she quit smoking that very day.
“Sometimes my words do carry weight,” he says. “It’s never as simple as telling a patient to quit smoking. You have to figure out what motivates each individual patient.”
The art of medicine… and classic cars
Motivating unique patients and tinkering with cantankerous classic cars are two interests that Dr. McLaughlin has held since his youth. The two passions are more similar than you might think.
“You have to bring an artistic quality to restoring classic cars, and there is an art to medicine, too,” he says. “You can tell the difference between a car that’s been thrown together and one that’s been assembled with care and attention.”
Dr. McLaughlin is clearly interested in the mechanics of fixing things—whether that’s refurbishing a paint job and gently coaxing an engine back to life, or treating a patient’s rash and mending broken bones. He puts time and care into each visit with his patients, talking with them to learn their concerns and then thoughtfully diagnosing both the issue and treatments.
It’s time to catch up on care
With the pandemic, many people put their health care on the back burner. But Dr. McLaughlin encourages everyone to visit their primary care provider. A wellness exam can uncover new issues and keep tabs on chronic conditions.
“Don’t put off those minor complaints. If it’s been there for a while and you’re wondering if it’s worth going to the doctor, the answer is yes.”
3 things to prioritize:
- Routine cancer screenings including colonoscopies and mammograms.
- Elective surgeries for joint replacements or minor cosmetic surgery.
- New or changing skin conditions which may indicate melanoma.
In the November 2021 edition of Men’s Health Monthly, Neil Scott and Dr. Tom Walsh welcome PacMed’s Dr. Liz Broussard – one of the top Gastrointestinal physicians in the Pacific Northwest – to discuss stomach problems, their cause, treatment and prevention.