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One of the country’s leading cosmetic physicians has recently opened a new, state of the art clinic in Kelowna. For the past 15 years, Dr. Mandy Wong has focused her medical practice on the treatment of varicose veins and skin concerns, a direct result of her passion for skin health that began as a teenager. Dr. Wong is also the founder of Restore Vein and Skin Centre, a leading facility for skin health and cosmetic medicine in the Okanagan Valley.
In order to continue offering a high level of service to their patients, the clinic has recently opened a new facility at Capri Centre Mall that better reflects the standard of care that patients receive. The clinic offers the latest skin cancer diagnostic equipment and state of the art technology for medical and cosmetic treatments.
How did you get started in your field? What path brought you to your current place in business?
I had the good fortune to know from a young age that I wanted to be a doctor. My mother was an architect and my father was an engineer, but they had a good family friend that was a dermatologist. I remember thinking how great a job that was. As a teenager, I visited her at her clinic regularly for acne treatment and always enjoyed sitting in her waiting room, imagining that I could be the doctor that these patients were waiting to see.
When I went to university, I was on a mission to become a doctor and was able to get into the MD program after 2 years of science studies. I started working in a dermatology research lab in my first year and by my fourth year of medicine, I was able to publish a scientific paper on a drug being developed for melanoma.
I discovered during medical school that I really enjoyed working with children and I shifted my focus from general dermatology to pediatric dermatology. I intended to do a residency in pediatrics and then subspecialize in dermatology.
In my first year of pediatrics, I found out that I was to have my first child. My husband was completing the last year of his ophthalmology residency and accepted a fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology in Iowa. We made the decision to move to Iowa for a year, meaning that I would leave my pediatrics residency and work in general practice. I don’t regret this decision at all as I now have three wonderful children and have been able to direct my medical practice to the areas of my interest.
What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients? What do your clients say about you?
There is no cookie cutter method of treating patients. Through history-taking and conversations with the patient, I am usually able to ascertain what kind of treatment solutions would be best suited to that particular patient. Especially with aesthetic concerns, there are many ways to reach the desired outcome. Some patients would like a slower, more cautious approach while others will want to get treatments with the most impact, even if some downtime will be required.
Also, patient’s tolerance for cost is something that I try to establish early on. I never want patients to feel pressured into buying a service that they really cannot comfortably afford. Often, we can offer a plan where treatment goals are achieved in a schedule that fits their budget or comfort level.
What are you most passionate about professionally? What most excites you about your work and the contribution you can make?
I love to learn. I am constantly looking at ways to educate myself further to serve my patients better. I am blessed to have a family that understands this desire, as I am often away at conferences, buried in books or spending hours on the computer doing online courses or research. The education I have received has enabled me to actually save people’s lives. I feel most gratified when I recognize and remove an early melanoma and tell the patient they have a 99.9% survival rate from this potentially catastrophic disease.
Tell us about your decision to start your business and what makes you different.
We are quite a unique clinic in terms of services we specialize in. Most clinics that specialize in cosmetic do not perform many medical treatments. However, I am passionate about vein health, diagnosing and treating skin cancer, and aesthetic medicine. I love technology that works. I started this business to equip myself with the tools and staff to give patients the best result.
Tell us about a time when you faced a challenge and how you overcame it or solved the problem.
The whole transition from my previous practice and partnership to our new clinic has been not without a significant number of challenges. We built our clinic from the ground up and had to make things work in several temporary offices. I was fortunate to have a great and experienced team of staff, the help of our community of physicians and, most of all, understanding and loyal patients who stayed with us through the chaos.
What makes your team strong? Who are some of the key players on your team and how did they come to be involved in your business/organization?
I can’t say enough about my team. They are wonderfully dedicated and take pride in their work. Most of my staff have been with me for years and like me, they understand the importance of on-going education and performing treatments with the patient’s best interest at heart. They respect each other and work as a cohesive unit.
Our medical and operations manager has worked with me for 10 years. She is an incredibly organized person with the ability to juggle many balls, while remaining calm and collected. She is extremely respected by staff members and sets the standard for patient care at the highest level.
How does your business contribute to the community?
Although we are known for our cosmetic treatments and have a very aesthetically pleasing office, we are also a medical clinic. We see and help people of all walks of life and of all ages, and treat a medical patient with the same attention and concern as we would a cosmetic patient. Our primary goal is to do what is best for the patient, based on what is known about the condition today. Our staff go above and beyond to help make the patients feel comfortable and reassured.
Tell us about a time when you were proud of your work and made a difference in someone’s life.
My medical and operations manager and I have done several missions where we have gone to less developed areas of Honduras and Mexico as part of a team that performed vein treatments for those in need. Every morning, there were huge line-ups of mostly women, some of them travelling from quite far to receive treatment.
We triaged these patients based on their level of vein disease. We generally let any woman with a handkerchief tied onto their leg in first. Usually, underneath this handkerchief, there were large ulcers that the women had no choice but to live with for years. I recall one woman that had an ulcer for 20 years! We often treated over 60 patients a day. My manager and I both brought our (at that time) teenage sons to help, with the desire to instill in them the importance of giving back.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
My two youngest children have myotonic muscular dystrophy. I remember when my husband and I learned of the diagnosis, I thought “Why us? This has never shown up in either of our families in the past.” My husband, being one of the wisest people I know, told me it happened to us because we could handle it. These two children have their challenges, but they are the happiest and most loving children any parent could ask for.
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