Surgeon championed women's health issues


POSTED: Monday, July 20, 2009

Dr. Laura Weldon Hoque, who was instrumental in developing the Kapiolani Breast Center and pioneered innovative treatments for breast cancer, died Thursday in Washington, D.C., after an extended illness. She was 44.

Hoque was a 1984 Punahou graduate, nationally recognized surgeon and medical director of the Kapiolani Women's Center from 1999 to 2005.

She saw the need for a “;one stop shop”; offering women comprehensive breast health services, education and counseling and pursued that goal.

She said in a Star-Bulletin interview in 2004 she had started building a team for women's breast services four years earlier, but the biggest step was opening a center specialists could go to.

Her goal was accomplished with establishment of a Breast Center that opened in May 2004 on the fifth floor of the Artesian Plaza, 1907 S. Beretania St. The Kapiolani Women's Center is on the first floor.

“;She provided leadership and vision for our women's center when it came to breast cancer detection, prevention and treatment,”; said Martha Smith, chief operating officer of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.

“;She was the voice and face to the community in building the program. She told us what services we should provide, picked equipment and worked closely with radiologists in terms of diagnostic work done.”;

She also helped the medical center obtain grants for a high-risk breast program and for research related to breast cancer , Smith said.

“;She was a community activist for women and promoted women's health needs. She was very well liked by the patients and staff, and a devoted mother of four kids.”;

Smith said Hoque started an annual memorial program around Christmas with a tree on which patients could hang ornaments for friends or family who died of cancer. “;She hosted that. It was something special and we still do it.”;

;Hoque left Hawaii with her family two years ago for fellowship training in plastic surgery as it relates to the breast, Smith said.

“;It was further training to improve her surgical skills.”;

But she had been back and forth here, Smith said.

“;We're all devastated, the long-timers who worked with her,”; said Terri Imaba, high-risk coordinator in the Breast Center. “;She made significant strides in improving breast care in Hawaii with her vision. Her concept of a breast center where everything is integrated for women is critical.”;

The center's high-risk breast program is “;the first of its kind in Hawaii that offers preventative services for at-risk women,”; she said. “;She could clearly see where deficiencies were in providing breast care in Hawaii and tried to work on ways to find solutions to make those problems go away,”; Imaba said.

Survivors include Hoque's husband, Tareq Hoque, former chief executive officer of Firetide; four children; two brothers, Dr. Edward Weldon, an orthopedic surgeon at Straub Clinic & Hospital, and Jeff Weldon of California; and parents Kathy and Ned Weldon of Honolulu.