For Dr. Monty Downs, Kaua’i’s health, safety is his top priority

  • Photo courtesy of Wilcox Health

    Dr. Monty Downs plays his unique harmonica/guitar combo during a Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association event.

  • Photo courtesy of Wilcox Health

    Dr. Monty Downs leads one of the Walk With A Doc trips around the Wilcox Medical facility.

  • Courtesy of Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association

    Dr. Monty Downs with a rescue tube outside the Wilcox Medical Center Emergency Room.

  • Courtesy of Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association

    Dr. Monty Downs with COVID-19 appropriate face mask

How many Kapa‘a High School Warrior supporter shirts does Dr. Monty Downs have?

Jen Chahanovich, the president and CEO of Wilcox Medical Center, said Dr. Downs has been providing medical support for the Kapa‘a football team in addition to caring for patients in the Emergency Department at Wilcox Medical Center.

“He has not missed one game in 48 years,” Chahanovich said. “Dr. Downs embodies our mission to create a healthier Hawai‘i. Not only has he dedicated his career to caring for patients in our Emergency Department at Wilcox Medical Center for the last 48 years, Dr. Downs has contributed immensely to our community as president of the Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association, and by providing medical support for the Kapa‘a High School football team.”

Dr. Spencer Smith, the Section Chief of Emergency Medicine at the Wilcox Medical Group said “they don’t make doctors like him, anymore.”

“The Emergency Department can be a stressful place to work at time,” Smith said. “But no matter how hectic things get, Dr. Downs never loses his sense of humanity. Over the years (Dr. Smith worked with Dr. Downs for about eight years), I have noticed how he consistently approaches each patient as an individual, and takes a few minutes to get to know them as a person — then, treating everyone, from the rich and famous to the homeless and disadvantaged, with the same compassion and dignity you would want for your own family. When things get slow, he will get on the phone and call patients he has seen over the past few days just to check in with them and make sure they are doing alright.”

Smith said Dr. Downs is one of a few Emergency physicians nationally who holds the distinction of having passed the board certification exam four times.

“Even with his high level of expertise, Dr. Downs maintains a humility that I suspect is one of the secrets to his success,” Smith said. “He loves to try new things and learn new tricks, and he’s never too proud to ask a younger colleague what they think, or ask for their input on a case. I remember one such occasion, recently seeing him come into the ER on his day off to see a patient with an uncommon condition that he had tried to fix the night before. After trying a new technique, he triumphantly exclaimed, ‘Wow! That really worked. Never tried that, before.’ He continues to amaze us all with his work ethic and dedication.”

Jim Jung is an individual who has experienced the many sides of Dr. Monty Downs.

“I’ve been medically treated by him in the Wilcox Emergency Room, shared our kids growing up, and engaged in public beach safety events,” Jung said. “I had the honor and privilege of serving as his vice president for the Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association for eight years.”

“Our association has resulted in many years of beach safety displays at the annual Wilcox Kids Fest, the Kukui Grove mall, and public and school beach events.”

Jung said he believes the partnership with the Kaua‘i Ocean Safety Bureau has raised the level of drowning prevention and saving many lives as well as providing financial support for equipment for Kaua‘i’s lifeguards.

The partnership includes the countless hours of preparing, acquiring, and distributing thousands of KLA beach safety guides and keiki safety activity books as well as KLA fundraising events and the annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk that are well-supported by the community’s generosity.

“On a personal note, no one has sent me more holiday and thank you cards and notes than Monty,” Jung said. “He is such a caring and compassionate person.”

Kalani Vierra, the Kaua‘i Fire and Ocean Safety chief, said Kaua‘i is very fortunate to have Dr. Downs here.

“The people of Kaua‘i — both visitors and residents — are very fortunate to have a man like Dr. Downs because he always puts everyone’s needs ahead of himself,” Vierra said. “He volunteers a lot of his own time to serve many community groups. Monty makes a living by what he does, but he makes a life by what he gives. He is one of Kaua‘i’s hidden gems and needs to be recognized for his great work in saving others.”

Smith said, “Monty is an incredible human being, and they just don’t make doctors like him, anymore. He genuinely loves the work that he does, and his true aloha for the Island, and the people of Kaua‘i is evident in everything he does.”

Jung said, “He is certainly a Home Town Hero.”

“Our community is heathier and better because of him,” Chahanovich said. “We are so grateful to have this hometown hero as part of our Wilcox Health ‘ohana.”

Happy birthday, Dr. Monty Downs! This is not July 18, but it’s still your birthday month.

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