Do you have a physician who you trust implicitly, one that is worth spending a little extra time in the waiting room? Would you travel 8,000 miles—more than 16 hours in a plane—for an appointment? To some patients, Orna Hadar, M.D., is worth the effort.
The breast imaging radiologist lives in Jupiter, Florida, and has patients from across the U.S. and even South Africa who seek her care and expertise because they trust her.
Dr. Hadar grew up in South Africa, and at the age of 17, was told by a male physician that her plan to pursue medicine was a waste of time and money. While his words stuck with her, she says the trust patients place in her is a reminder of how far the medical profession has progressed and how fortunate she is to provide care and comfort to patients in their time of need.
When she was young, her mother encouraged her to choose a profession that would give her independence and a sense of purpose, and medicine fit the bill.
“My mother was a very strong woman,” Dr. Hadar stated. “She always said, ‘You have to have your own career. You always have to be able to take care of yourself,’ and medicine is a great way to be able to do that and give back.’”
When a plastic surgeon in her native country tried to discourage her career goals, he only succeeded in further igniting her passion for medicine.
She recalled him shaking his head and saying, “What a waste. You all go and waste the government’s money and then go home and get pregnant and have babies and won’t practice.”
“He made me so angry,” she said.
After attending medical school in South Africa, Dr. Hadar worked in England briefly before moving to New York City to complete her residency at New York Medical College and fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She spent 15 years as a breast imager at Murray Hill Radiology in New York City, before relocating to Florida to join the team at the Margaret W. Niedland Breast Center at Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Fla., in 2015.
Providing Compassionate Care
Six weeks after her arrival in Jupiter, the medical group began providing same-day results to patients —a service that takes teamwork to provide and that patients have come to appreciate.
“I think it’s imperative that women receive their results the same day,” says Dr. Hadar, who is a member of the American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North American and Society of Breast Imaging. “In one second your life can change. It’s worth the time and effort.”
Imaging results are explained to patients by Dr. Hadar or another radiologist, enabling patients to get accurate answers to any questions they may have that day. If the results warrant it, Dr. Hadar will make room in the day’s schedule for additional imaging studies or even a biopsy. This practice helps relieve patients’ anxiety and ensure prompt attention to any issues that are identified.
“When someone tells you, ‘You have a spot on your mammogram’ or says ‘I’m worried about something’ … every woman dreads that,” she explained.
She says that is often the most vulnerable time for patients, and that’s when they need care and compassion – no matter the time of day.
“The reality is that when a patient feels comfortable with a physician or a facility or they feel that they are getting the best care, they will travel for that.”
Improving Life in Our Communities One Moment at a Time
In addition to caring for patients in the office, Dr. Hadar is committed to improving the health of her community. She’s a volunteer member of Jupiter’s Women’s Advisory Health Council, which develops health and wellness programs for women and teenagers and educates them about a variety of healthcare topics, including breast health, heart health, drug dependence, the benefits of exercise and how to deal with stress.
Dr. Hadar is also involved in the Pink Chair Project, an annual event when breast cancer survivors decorate chairs to commemorate their journeys. The chairs are placed in businesses through the town along with information about the importance of mammography screenings. Dr. Hadar also speaks at community events and delivers materials about breast health to local churches.
“When women, and all patients, have the right education, they can make educated choices and become empowered partners in their healthcare journey.”
Being a Woman in Medicine
The field has come a long way since her encounter with that plastic surgeon more than 30 years ago.
“Now it’s completely normal for a woman to be a physician – in South Africa and the U.S. Nobody frowns upon it anymore.”
While Dr. Hadar admits that there’s still some room for improvement in the healthcare system, she says that Envision Physician Services is leading by example and helping women advance into leadership roles.
“I’m very fortunate that I really love what I do,” she said.
“Breast cancer is so common that I see it every single day, but I know that I can make a difference in patients’ lives. We see a lot of patients with problems, but then we also see the survivors come out on the other side. When they come back and they’ve finished their treatments and you give them a good result, it’s really rewarding.”
While she wouldn’t trade her job for anything in the world, she says women don’t have to be defined by one role. When she’s not caring for patients, Dr. Hadar enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and practicing yoga.