Dr. Kevin Wei is just the latest in a series of physicians who, with virtually the entire world of practice opportunities at their feet, have chosen The Dalles. This includes his MCMC | OHSU Cardiology Clinic practice partner, David Guarraia, M.D., who in 2009 established The Gorge’s first full-time cardiology practice.
“I saw this as a great opportunity to do something I have wanted to do for a while, which is to practice in a smaller community where there is significant need for specialty heart care,” Dr. Wei says.
He was born in Hong Kong and split his youth between there and Toronto. He earned his bachelor’s and medical degrees at the University of Toronto, and was a member of the faculty of Virginia Medical Center, where he practiced patient care, conducted research and earned an internationally reputation for his expertise in echocardiography.
In 2005 Dr. Wei moved from Virginia to Portland and over the next six years helped double the size of the Cardiology Division of Oregon Health & Science University.
Dr. Kevin Wei whet his appetite for practicing small-town medicine in 2010, when he practiced one day a week in Longview, Wash. But in the MCMC | OHSU Cardiology Clinic at Water’s Edge he sees the opportunity for something bigger than just a small-town practice.
“We want to work to build a facility for diagnosing and managing heart disease that is similar to what is available at OHSU,” Dr. Wei says.
MCMC has helped him take a big step toward that goal by equipping the Water’s Edge clinic with state-of-the-art echocardiography equipment, which means area residents now have local access to an important tool for diagnosing an array of heart conditions.
Dr. Wei has specific expertise in contrast, or bubble, echocardiography, which uses tiny gas bubbles injected into the blood stream to evaluate and understand blood flow and heart function. He was trained in the procedure at the University of Virginia Medical Center by one of its leading experts, Dr. Sanjiv Kaul, and later followed Dr. Kaul to OHSU.
In addition to his practice at MCMC | OHSU Cardiology Clinic, Dr. Kevin Wei continues to see patients at OHSU and is a member of the medical school faculty. He still works with Dr. Kaul, who has high praise for his colleague. “Dr. Wei is one of the most experienced clinical contrast echocardiography experts in the world and a widely sought-after teacher,” Dr. Kaul says. “At least half a dozen of Dr. Wei’s research papers on the topic are the most often-quoted in echocardiography.”
Dr. Wei says bubble echocardiography helps him visualize heart structure and function with much greater clarity than other commonly used techniques. Other than OHSU, the Water’s Edge Cardiology Clinic is the only setting in Oregon where the technology is available.
“The bubbles really light up the images and give us a better view of the heart,” he says. “Having this technology available will provide significant benefits to heart patients throughout the region.”
The same can be said about MCMC’s partnership with OHSU, Dr. Wei adds. “Our clinic at Water’s Edge really is like a satellite clinic of OHSU,” he says, adding that it is also “A win-win situation for me. I get to keep my connection with OHSU, but also get to see patients in this smaller setting, which I am really enjoying.”