Tuesday, November 13 , 2018, 8:08 pm | Fair 58º

Your Health
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With a Healing Spirit, Dr. David Hernandez Treats Westmont College Students as Family

Longtime Westmont Health Center director finds enrichment — and a ministry — working with campus community

Dr. David Hernandez, director of the Westmont Health Center, says today’s college students are far more knowledgeable and aware about medical symptoms and issues. Click to view larger
Dr. David Hernandez, director of the Westmont Health Center, says today’s college students are far more knowledgeable and aware about medical symptoms and issues. (Brad Elliott / Westmont Colleg photo)

Dr. David Hernandez has always had an innate curiosity about the world around him and the desire to simply help people however he could. These inclinations translated into a career in pediatric medicine.

His path eventually led him to Westmont College in Montecito, where he serves as director of the Westmont Health Center.

A native Texan, Hernandez attended UC Irvine School of Medicine and, after graduation, took a residency at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

After a couple of years working in Los Angeles, a former colleague offered him a job in the Santa Barbara area. Having greatly enjoyed visiting the community, he accepted the position and has been here ever since.

For 11 years, Hernandez practiced pediatrics locally, but gradually found himself longing for a change.

“Every health-care provider has a spirit about them,” he told Noozhawk.

Treatments frequently come down to an objective, best way to treat an illness, which often is similar among health-care providers.

To Hernandez, however, the difference is the way and the spirit in which that treatment is administered. He believes a patient will feel better when treated with a kind and generous spirit, rather than merely given the right pill and sent on his or her way.

Finding that his then-practice was not fostering the spirit he felt called to provide, Hernandez accepted a job offer to head the Westmont Health Center. There, he found what he had been looking for.

At Westmont, Hernandez continues to find great professional and personal fulfillment — even after 20 years. His Christian faith also plays a large role in how he views his work.

“I see it as supporting God’s work,” he said. “It’s an exchange of energy.”

That’s not to say his work is without great challenge. Hernandez says he spends 90 percent of his time working directly with patients, focusing primarily on their physical symptoms.

The ever-changing medical landscape among young people and the uniqueness of each person ensures that no two patients are the same.

Over the last couple of years, Hernandez says, he has seen within his student patients an increase in medical issues related to mental health. Depression and eating and attention-deficit disorders are among the many issues that the Health Center — and Westmont’s Counseling Center — work toward helping students overcome.

Hernandez also has observed that today’s students are far more knowledgeable and aware about medical issues. Thanks to the Internet, he says, young people are proving to be more and more capable of diagnosing symptoms and researching more information.

Armed with this knowledge, Hernandez continues to provide a kind and generous spirit that is warmly received by Westmont’s 1,200 students, its faculty, staff and their families.

While his work is challenging, he says he is thankful for the opportunity to help his community, as well as the positive connections he has formed with students over the years.

Click here for more information about the Westmont Health Center.

Noozhawk intern Ben Sheard can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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