published on April 12, 2012 - 7:06 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Dr. Kelvin Higa


ALSA Medical Group, Inc.

What we do: ALSA Medical Group is dedicated to developing minimally invasive solutions to all general surgical problems. In so doing, we create the least amount of harm while trying to cure or control disease. We are dedicated to the ethical practice of medicine and to old-fashioned ideas such as altruism, compassion, dignity and respect.
We are also dedicated to the training of residents and fellows — the future of medicine.

Education: Medical school: UCLA; surgery training: UCSF, Fresno. Currently hold the academic position of clinical professor of surgery for UCSF. Past chief of surgery for Community Medical Centers and Saint Agnes Medical Center. Past president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery

Age: 54

Family: Wife: Gloria — high school sweetheart; married for 28 years.  Four children: Jennifer, Jessica,
Matthew and Samantha

How long have you been with Fresno Heart and Surgical Hospital, Dr. Kelvin?
6 years

What encouraged you to practice this type of medicine, Dr. Kelvin?
There are few specialties that have such an impact on an individual’s life. Our patients live longer, are healthier, and even though surgery and hospitalization is involved, our interventions actually pay for themselves within a few years. Can you think of any other therapy for a chronic disease that can make that claim?

What are your primary responsibilities as medical director of the hospital’s metabolic and bariatric surgery program, Dr. Kelvin?
It is my responsibility to create/maintain the highest quality program attainable. This requires coordination of education and training, quality and performance assessment and being a resource for the administration regarding evaluation of new technologies and strategic planning.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most difficult, Dr. Kelvin?
The most rewarding part of my job is the ability to help patients on an individual as well as a broader basis. What we do and how we do it touches many lives and should be an example of how institutions and physician groups coordinate efforts to provide the most cost effective and highest quality health care.

Is there one patient or surgery in particular that stands out, Dr. Kelvin?
No. Every patient is an individual and is memorable. However, there are many patients that have made their way to our program, either on referral from other centers or programs, or from family members who are having problems with nowhere to turn. Many of these patients have very complex problems and issues that can only be addressed in a center with the expertise and dedication to solve the problem.

What do you like to do when you’re not working, Dr. Kelvin?
I don’t consider what I do as “work.” I absolutely enjoy all aspects of my job and therefore commit most of my time to it. That includes reviewing research articles or writing and publishing, reading and learning more about my specialty and of business, preparing lectures or teaching. I suppose the only thing I really enjoy outside of “work” is sleeping.

What are three words that describe you, Dr. Kelvin?
Opinionated. Eclectic. Grateful.

What is the best advice you have ever received, Dr. Kelvin?
“Think about the next guy.” As I was working on my car – rewiring the stereo or something — my father, a mechanic, often told me to make my repairs easily decipherable for the next owner. Think about the next guy. When trying to figure out what the last surgeon did, and when planning a complex operation, I think about the next guy. I do not do what is easiest, but try to make it easier for the next surgeon. Of course, this has become a metaphor for a way of life and attitude that transcends what my father meant.

What is the most influential book you have ever read, Dr. Kelvin?
There have been so many.  I rarely read fiction.  The books by Daniel Pink, Jim Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, Atul Gawande, even Thomas Paine.  However, I suspect “The New Capitalist Manifesto” by Umair Haque gave me optimism regarding the future of our economy.

Do you have a favorite quotation, Dr. Kelvin?
“If it looks hard, you are doing something wrong.” Another quote by my father and an excellent teaching point for young surgeons trying to master their craft.

What was your first job growing up, and what did you learn from it, Dr. Kelvin?
My first job was as an assistant to a gardener, where I learned patience and kindness.

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