By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Mega Doctor News
Dr. Michael T. Mohun, Jr. practices Emergency Medicine, one of the most exciting and challenging fields in healthcare. Dr. Mohun is affiliated with Harlingen Medical Center, the award winning and nationally recognized hospital. He graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in 1979 and has been in practice for more than 30 years. He completed his residency at UTHSCSA-University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Being a doctor specializing in emergency medicine is possibly one of the fields in medicine where the professional has to be quick on his feet. “I’ve been practicing emergency medicine for 33 years,” he told Mega Doctor News.
Dr. Mohun said emergency medicine is probably the most exciting, vital part of medicine today. “We fill the need of being able to not only see the most critical patients with the most urgent issues like heart attacks, strokes, and, vehicle accidents, but, we also provide access to medical care for people who otherwise would not be able to get medical attention,” he said.
He pointed out that the practice of emergency medicine also leads to some of the problems that are going to be seen in the future in medicine.
“I just feel very proud that I really get to engage with patients and treat them, and try to meet their needs in the most economical fashion to keep the cost of their medical care down,” Dr. Mohun said. He admits that his job presents an incredible challenge.
He noted that the fast activity of an Emergency Room keeps everyone on their toes. He said, “You have to develop a really quick assessment of the patient’s need, come up with a diagnosis and use appropriate tests to support the diagnosis.”
Dr. Mohun has seen it all, from pregnant patients getting ready to deliver, to the young and the old. He pointed out that anybody that walks into the emergency room is seen and treated. He says that about 25% of the patients are children with fevers, cough, and a runny nose. He adds, “Sometimes there’s somebody really sick in that group.”
He told Mega Doctor News that the other group of patients coming to the Emergency Room are the elderly. He reported that the number of elderly coming to the Emergency Room is growing extensively. He explains, “Young kids tend to hide illnesses just like older patients do, but the intellectual challenge is to find the really sick person amongst all the people who don’t particularly look sick.” He continued, “But what we’re seeing more often is a growing number of kids and older patients needing Emergency Room care.”
The main challenge in the Emergency Room is to find out as soon as possible what the problem with the patient is. This is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of the physician in charge. As such, Dr. Mohun said, that years of Emergency Room experience are needed to be able to diagnose and treat patients adequately and accurately as they come through the emergency room.
“To better assist them with good Emergency Room care, you have to be extremely straight forward and say, “Why are you here today? What can I do for you? Why did you wait until today if you had this cough a month ago?” According to Dr. Mohun, these questions are very important, because the answers are going to determine the next steps to take.
Over the years of treating patients, he has learned how to interact with them. “I maintain good eye contact with them, touch their shoulder, and this helps me in getting better and quicker information from them which is vital for their wellbeing.”
The field of medicine is a demanding profession; it carries a heavy load of responsibility because it deals with people’s lives.
What inspired you to become a doctor? “I think I’ve always felt the need to help people.” He continued, “When I was in high school I was very good in biology and chemistry. I would always represent my high school at the scholastic events and challenges.” He recalls that several groups of students represented physics, mathematics, chemistry, and he would represent biology.
From an early age, he knew he could be a teacher in that field, or a researcher or a doctor. One of his teachers would always arrange field trips for the biology class and one day his group went to see an open heart surgery that Dr. Michael E. DeBakey was performing at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.
He said, “That really intrigued me that you could apply biology and be a physician to help people. I said to myself, I want to do this.”
His first thought was to become a neurosurgeon; this field was what intrigued him the most. But in the end he chose to do what he is doing now, emergency medicine.
Dr. Mohun already said that the patients that he sees most are in pediatrics and the elderly population. When asked, “But what about the most difficult cases?” he replied, “The really critical ones are people having heart attacks. Patients that need to go to the Cath Lab, that need a cardiologist or the person who’s having a stroke.”
For people that had a stroke, he prescribes TPA, which stands for Tissue Plasminogen Activator. This is a medication given to stroke patients that helps to dissolve clots.
“When most people have a stroke they have a clot in the circulation of their brain.” He explains, “Much like when you’re having a heart attack you get a blockage in the coronary artery.”
He pointed out that a stroke is a blockage of a blood vessel in the brain, so what the medication does is that it helps dissolve that clot and reestablishes the blood flow into that part of the heart or the brain. It helps to prevent more damage to the heart or the brain.
Other difficult and challenging situations include when he is in front of a patient with a collapsed lung, or one who comes in with respiratory distress who can’t breathe. A quick decision has to be made to protect their air way to help the patient to continue breathing.
“Also cardiac arrest where you implement advanced cardiac life support.” He said, “Those are the critical patients where you make a difference.”
Getting back to TPA, when administered, how long does it take for it to take effect? “It could be almost immediate. This is the most critical part of dealing with a stroke. You need to have TPA given within three hours. Most people don’t even recognize they are having a stroke,” he said.
In this field, he said that there are protocols that have been developed when a patient arrives. “We evaluate them quickly. We get their vital signs. We send them to take a CAT scan of their brain to make sure there is no bleeding.”
They also talk to a neurologist immediately because their goal is to be able to reverse the stroke.
In the emergency room the hours are long with nine-hour shifts that often turn into a twelve-hour shift. Their main goal is that everyone that comes into the emergency room is seen and treated with the best possible outcomes.
His Personal Life
Dr. Mohun was born in Temple, Texas in 1954; his parents are the late Michael Thomas Mohun Sr. that were originally from Chicago, Illinois and his mom, Joan, who is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He said, “They met at Will Rogers High School and married. My dad served in the Navy. They were great parents while I grew up.”
Dr. Mohun said that his father embodied the good work ethic. “He was a traveling salesman. So I didn’t really see my dad much from Monday morning till Friday afternoon. But when he came home, family was most important to him and he would spend as much time throwing the baseball with me as he could. What he instilled in me is to not work for other people, but rather for me, to be my own boss.”
He also learned from his father that life is not fair. “You get what you work for. Life doesn’t give you anything. He taught me that you should take responsibility for who you are and what you’re doing; that is what my father told me,” he said.
Dr. Mohun’s mom is 82 and is still driving. According to Dr. Mohun, she was a great homemaker. “I was blessed to have her as a full time mom. She was there to make sure I got home after school.” Dr. Mohun said neither one of his parents finished college, but her thing was education and she emphasized that you could succeed in life if you have knowledge.
He told Mega Doctor News that she was the tough one, and is now living in Houston, Texas. She drove down last Christmas to the Valley to visit Dr. Mohun and the family.
How did you meet your wife? “I met my wife in San Antonio, Texas when I was working the emergency room at Southwest General Hospital and she was an intensive care unit nurse, ICU nurse.” It all started as a friendship in 1985. “We really didn’t date, but we knew each other and liked each other. And then later on we started dating and it led to us getting married.
So it wasn’t love at first sight? “I think I liked her first and at first sight!” he said.
When asked, “From the first time?” He said, “We just became friends and she liked me and I liked her. But we had our separate lives. We would see each other at work and of course when a patient had problems in the ICU where she worked I would go over to assist.”
It was a very good excuse for you to be able to see her? “It was a very good excuse for me. You’re very right about that.”
What is her name? “Irene Gonzales, she grew up in McAllen, TX and attended McAllen High School.” But you met in San Antonio? “That is correct”
That lead to another question. How did you end up in the Valley? “Because of my wife.” He said, “She is part of a family with five brothers and sisters and we would come down for Christmas and holidays. I liked the Valley very much and the people. I had already practiced 15-16 years in San Antonio, but I liked the smaller towns and the slower pace of the Valley. Plus, I love the food from this region and the people, so it was a natural step for us to move to the Valley. I knew it would be a great place to raise our kids.”
How many kids do you have? “I have two, Samantha Haley Mohun 22, soon to be a graduating senior at Trinity University this May. My son, Michael Thomas Mohun III, 18; who will be a graduating from high school in May as well, so both are graduating this year.”
Do you think they will also follow your footsteps? He says, “Yes; it’s possible! They are doing very well. I told them medicine is an ever changing field. I didn’t instill that they must be a doctor. I instill in them to do something they are passionate about. And I think, then their happiness will follow. I want them to be happy, but to do something that has significance for them.”
Would you change anything in your life if you had the chance to change it? “No. I truly believe God has a chosen path for us. As long as you’re open minded and your faith is strong; you walk by faith on the path you’re on.” he finalized.
Dr. Michael T. Mohun, Jr. was chosen as the Mega Doctor for the month January of 2016 for his passion in providing his patients with the best possible emergency room medical care. To learn more about emergency medicine, or Harlingen Medical Center, please log on to www.HarlingenMedicalCenter.com. MDN