Honoring an Exceptional Doctor

When Katherine Hern came down with a cough, she thought it was allergies and would go away with time. But when it persisted for months, she began to worry. That’s when her doctor referred her to Virginia Mason pulmonologist Steven Kirtland, MD.

“Dr. Kirtland impressed me with his listening skills and how thoroughly he reviewed my chart,” Katherine says. “It was clear, right from the beginning, how deeply he cares for his patients.”

Dr. Kirtland ran tests and found what was causing Katherine’s cough: Lady Windermere syndrome, a bacterial infection in the lungs.

“He wasn’t sure where the infection came from, but he was determined to find out,” Katherine says.

Lady Windermere syndrome is common in heavy smokers and in people with underlying lung disease. Katherine had never smoked and didn’t have lung disease, but Dr. Kirtland’s thorough review of her history helped him pinpoint the problem.

“I never smoked, but I was a stewardess in the 1970s, before they banned smoking on planes,” Katherine says. “When Dr. Kirtland realized this, he said heavy exposure to secondhand smoke made me susceptible to the infection.”

Dr. Kirtland devised a custom treatment plan that put Katherine on the path to recovery. This comprehensive care inspired her to honor Dr. Kirtland with a generous gift to Virginia Mason. She hopes her donation makes top-quality treatment available for more people.

“Virginia Mason enables doctors like Dr. Kirtland to make a huge impact on patients’ lives and I want to help support that,” Katherine says.

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