On the cutting edge
Grand Falls - Windsor native works, plays his way onto surgical frontier
Dr. Kevin Hoddinott used to swim at Leech Brook. He still drinks his Red Rose tea from a 75th anniversary Grand Falls - Windsor Royal Canadian Legion mug.
In Grade 10 at Grand Falls Academy he played guitar in a band called the Comets and after that, the Shandells.
He went on to Memorial University in 1967 for two years studying engineering and didn’t like it.
He switched to pre-med but didn’t like it either, so he quit and reunited the band as the rocky blues playing Rock Pile (Ed Cater, Ewan Newhook, Cyril Glen, Dave Hillier and Brian Murphy, who is today a well-known jazz musician in Florida).
The band survived several incarnations ( Kite, Express Freight, Ice) over the next six years in Newfoundland and Ontario. In between bands, Dr. Hoddinott survived working in odd jobs including work at a cardboard box factory and as a tobacco picker.
In 1976 at the age of 26, he figured he’d better “get a real job” and moved back to Newfoundland go to med school.
Mister Hoddinott became Doctor Hoddinott in 1980 when he graduated from Memorial University with his degree in medicine. He continued on and did his five-year general surgery residency there.
In 1985 Dr. Hoddinott completed a fellowship in vascular surgery with the University of Toronto. He was “tempted” to stay and do a year of thoracic or cardiac surgery, but the time had come. He had his three children by then with his wife Judy (Allan) from St. John’s, and he felt he needed to get out and go to work. The next year he returned to Newfoundland and began work at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital in St. John’s.
For 10 years Dr. Hoddinott worked in vascular and general surgery at that location.
“I was extremely busy,” he said. “I was probably the busiest surgeon in the province at the time.”
He tired of the treatment doctors received from the health care board at the time and decided “enough was enough,” leaving Newfoundland in 1996.
“The province was losing a lot of good doctors around that time,” he said. “No one could take having to work all the time. There were never enough of us and they wouldn’t give us the equipment we needed to work with and so on. We were starting to lose our skills.”
He was able to hone those skills performing vascular and bariatric (weight loss) surgery at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for the next 12 years.
“The first year I was there I did maybe seven gastric bypasses or revisions but then the word got out and I did about fifteen the next year, then 45, 75, 150, and 250. It just took right off.”
His website is filled with comments from his many success stories.
“I have performed a lot of surgeries and I have to say weight loss surgery patients are by far the most appreciative patients you will ever come across,” he said.
Last year he moved to Ocala, Florida with his family and now works as a leading surgeon at Monroe Regional Medical Centre, which holds the designation of Bariatric Centre of Excellence.
“I’m doing vascular general and bariatric surgery. I’m still going full blast.” 100-200 weight loss
surgeries a year
Dr. Hoddinott does 100-200 weight loss surgeries a year. He is also one of the first and few surgeons trained in a breakthrough surgical procedure to correct gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). He’s complet-
“I have performed a lot of surgeries and I have to say weight loss surgery patients are by far the most appreciative patients you will ever come across.”
— DR. KEVIN HODDINOTT
ed 52 of those since February.
The procedure involves a new sleeve device that attaches to a scope and allows doctors perform surgery “trans-orally” or through the mouth. Surgeons attach the stomach wall to the esophagus and create a valve to stop unwanted stomach acid from coming back up into the esophagus and lungs. It provides an “anatomical solution,” he said, to a problem traditionally treated far too long and ineffectively with antacid medication.
“Reflux can be awful,” he said. “It can be anything from a bit of minor heartburn to actual choking. If you look at reflux disease leading to esophagitis all the way through to esophageal cancer, if reflux is preventable, we’re talking about a preventable cancer here.”
He still follows health care at home and while he says the Canadian system is “light years ahead” in terms of health care coverage for patients, he said he would never come back to work.
“I’ve always said, and all of us who leave say the same, it wouldn’t have taken much to keep me, but it would take a hell of a lot to get me to come back.” H e said the large hospitals have their quota of surgeons and smaller ones don’t have the resources surgeons need to do anything other then general surgery. He also said travel from Newfoundland is inconvenient and a costly necessity for doctors to keep
on top of medical advances. New surgical treatment
He said there is interest in bringing the new surgical treatment to Newfoundland, however it is not yet being performed in anywhere in Canada.
Not all of Dr, Hoddinott’s time is filled in surgery.
He still takes the time to rock out with some blues on his guitar.
“I still play most every day,” he said. “I got a room full of guitars and amps here and a loud PA system.”
Once his new house is built, he intends to spend even more time at his first love with friends that share his passion for music.
Dr. Kevin Hoddinott holds an endoscope used to perform a groundbreaking new surgical procedure trans-orally to correct reflux disease. The Grand Falls-Windsor native is recognized as a pioneer in the area of bariatric medicine.
Submitted photos When he’s not performing surgeries, Dr. Hoddinott continues a favourite pastime of his — playing guitar.