A celebratory interview with Dr. Milind Dhond MD, a Cardiologist at Plumas District Hospital.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Mil Dhond. I am a Cardiologist who lives in Davis, California. I see people with heart conditions, abnormal rhythms, heart failure, and coronary disease. I come up every two weeks to do clinics and studies with patients in Quincy and Graeagle, and then I go back to Davis. In addition to this, I have a regular practice at a district hospital in Fairfield, California. I am also a professor at UC Davis and I teach there once a month.
How did you first hear about our community, and Plumas District Hospital?
I am originally from England. After I finished my training in cardiology from UC Davis, I needed a green card. This required a rural area job, which was actually in Portola. Initially, there was not enough work at the hospital in Portola. So, I reached out to Dr. Jeff Kepple about 23 years ago, “you know, I am going to be here for 3-5 years, do you want a cardiologist to come to Plumas District Hospital once a week?” So I came here and began setting up cardiac services, including new echo machines and treadmills. I was coming here once a week, and after I got the green card five years later, I decided that I quite liked working here. Even though I moved to Davis, I said I would keep coming here every few weeks and I’ve been doing that for Seventeen years.
What drew you to providing care in our community?
The initial reason was the requirement for the green card. After I got the green card, I could have said adios! But, I discovered that I actually quite liked the area, and I found a feeling of well-being here. When I am here, it is quite odd. The clinic and work is very busy, but I have the feeling of relaxation. Rather than having the stress of living in the city, I have a natural peace when driving here. That is why I keep coming back. The people are also different. The general person here is more salt of the earth. There is a homeliness about working here. The thing about rural medicine is normally the more you work somewhere the more homely it is, because you know everybody. There is a familiarity with it. The people here are nice, the staff are nice, so it’s easy to work here.
What is something that you like about the Quincy area?
I really like the natural beauty of the area actually, and the fact that it is quiet. If you go to Tahoe, there is natural beauty, but there is also like 10 million people there! Whereas Quincy is off the beaten track. Whenever I tell people I am going to Quincy, or Graeagle, they are like “where?” So you have the natural beauty, with the quietness, and not the crowds.
You have been commuting from Davis to Quincy, for seventeen years, in all seasons, including snow and rain. Can you describe a close call that you had during one of your commutes?
There was one time that 70 and 80 was closed due to a snowstorm, and I decided to take 162, (Bucks Lake Highway) not realizing the conditions from Oroville to Bucks Lake. Even though I had 4 wheel drive, my car sank in a snow drift. Then I had to walk for about three hours and was even stalked by a mountain lion at one point. I fortunately ran into snow mobilers who took me down to Bucks Lake. They told me my car was going to be there for the entire winter. Thankfully, the Sheriff came to my rescue. I saw him and he said “hey”, and then I said “hey!” The Sheriff happened to be one of my patients. He then towed my car out with a snowcat. It was fortunate; otherwise, I would have been trapped.
How would you describe what you do to someone who is unfamiliar with cardiology?
Cardiology is primarily a medical specialty that overlaps with procedures. There is a lot of technology involved, like ultrasound, pacemakers, arthroplasty, and defibrillators. It is a very interesting field where you look at all aspects of heart function. The only thing that a cardiologist does not do is open-heart surgery. Otherwise, all other aspects of cardiac disease are dealt with by a cardiologist. Electrical disturbances, blockages in the heart, heart failure, are examples. The heart is quite a simple organ. There are only so many things that can go wrong with the heart.
Out of all the disciplines in medicine, what drew you to practice Cardiology?
Cardiology is a field that has many procedures, which are something that I enjoy. You are not in the clinic all of the time. There is mental stress and reward that comes with procedures, because it is such a technical field. In addition to this, Cardiology is a field of very rapid advancement. For example, I do procedures now that were not invented when I completed my initial training. I am also involved in research and innovation in Fairfield and UC Davis. It’s in these ways that Cardiology keeps me interested.
What do you find challenging in the work that you do?
The inequity in the distribution of healthcare. Some of the more challenging situations are when I am trying to get medications for patients, but the cost of the medicine is so prohibitively high. Another challenging situation is if they do not have insurance, and they need tests done or studies done. That ends up being the problem sometimes in medicine. I know this because I trained and worked in a national health system, in England, for four years, where equity and access to care is not an issue.
What do you find rewarding about your work as a Cardiologist?
The work up here that I find rewarding is looking after people for many years where you almost know them like a family member. You know what I mean? I have three kids and patients would ask about my “new” baby, and now my baby is going to college. You have the privilege of following people for a long period of time and looking after them through all phases of their life. An example was, on my 50th birthday, I was actually here in Plumas County. The friends that I stay with in Graeagle took me out to dinner at Cuccias. I knew every single person in that restaurant. They all came up to congratulate me and say hello. That would never happen anywhere else.
Dr. Dhond, thank you so much for your commitment to our community. Happy Doctor’s Week!