The Hewell Kids' Kidney Center at Arnold Palmer Hospital oftentimes becomes a home-away-from-home for many children needing outpatient dialysis treatment in Central Florida. The Hewell Kids' Kidney Center cares for children who have been diagnosed with with kidney-related disease such as end-stage kidney disease and obesity-related kidney disorders, as well as those who have undergone a kidney transplant. The team consists of several pediatric nephrologists, nurse practitioners, renal nurses, nutritionists, and social workers. The team recently welcomed it's newest member, Dr. Jeffery Johnson, pediatric nephrologist, in June of this year. Get to know Dr. Johnson in the Q & A below!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up all over since my dad was in the Air Force. We finally settled in Ohio when I was in high school and then I moved to California in my adult years. I had lived in Los Angeles, CA for the past 14 years before moving to Orlando.
Where did you go to school?
For my undergraduate I went to Washington University in St. Louis, MO and then attended Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland, OH for medical school.
What did you want to be when you were a little kid?
I wanted to be a soccer player, even though I was horrible! I didn’t know I wanted to go into the field of medicine until halfway through college. I thought I wanted to do medical research, but after I started doing it I realized it wasn’t for me. With medicine, there is something new every day, which keeps me going.
What was your first job?
I worked in a games department at a local amusement park. It was a lot of fun. I worked there in high school and through my first year of college.
What are your hobbies?
I run a lot – almost every day. Today I’ll be running eight miles. I like to scuba dive and travel. Bali was probably my most favorite place I’ve traveled to so far.
What is your favorite sports team?
The Cincinnati Bengals even they break my heart every year!
How did you get into pediatric nephrology?
It was when I did a pediatric nephrology rotation as part of my medical training that I knew that was what I wanted to do – it was very interesting to me.
How did you know you wanted to work with kids?
It was probably after my second or third month of working in the adult emergency room that I felt called to work in pediatrics. My mom and sister are both elementary school teachers, so I’ve spent most of my life being around and working with kids.
When did you start at Arnold Palmer Hospital and what is it like working at the Hewell Kids’ Kidney Center?
I moved to Orlando for this job and have been here since June 2014. One of the things I love about working here is the team that I am a part of. Everyone is fun and easy to work with. We usually all eat lunch together. It’s like a family here, which is evident in how we care for our patients. We take a team approach in being able to provide comprehensive care to our patients, and everyone is usually on the same page as far as what the protocol should be and what the treatment plan should look like.
What is it like working with the whole family and not just the patient?
It’s a fine balance, because I always try to acknowledge and engage the child while also working with the parents and families. But it’s something that I really enjoy. It might not always be an easy day at work, but being able to care for kids and knowing that I am helping them is a great feeling.
What is one piece of advice that you always communicate to families and patients?
I think one of the most important things in our patient population is for them to be taking their medicine. In our transplant population, most of them are on an immunosuppressant, and if they don’t take their medication for a few days, they could end up losing their kidney or having recurrent kidney disease. It’s important for me that they understand the importance of taking their medicine and that the family ensures that they will follow through with the treatment plan at home.
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?
I would say it was when I took over the dialysis unit at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. I had to basically redo the unit and start over from scratch, building it from the ground up.
What is one thing that patients and families wouldn’t otherwise know about you?
I want families to know that I am honest with them, whether I have good or bad news to share. I would want my physician to be honest with me, so I try and do the same for our families.