I grew up in South Central Los Angeles surrounded by a loving family. At a very young age, I learned the importance of hard work, often helping my dad collect cardboard boxes and cans to bring a little extra income to the table. My neighborhood was gang-infested but somehow my parents knew how to gather their sheep and protect them from the wolves. This upbringing shaped the person I am today. If someone ever doubted my abilities, my goal would be to prove them wrong. Being a little rebellious and with a great sense of humor is how I navigate my ship and somehow I've never been lost.
Graduating from high school was typically celebrated as the pinnacle and end of our career. I was terrified when I got into college. I broke the news to my parents one week before flying out. I figured that if I did not give them much time to protest, they would not stop me from leaving. I left Los Angeles to freeze my bones in Ithaca, New York, where California sweaters were never warm enough and my shoes were always too slippery.
I attended Cornell University and got the challenge of my life. I was not equipped to handle such an intense program but I also was not built for failure. I received my Bachelor's degree in Microbiology and Spanish Literature. I cleaned pots and pans to pay the rent and performed DNA sequencing to study the neural circuit of the spiny lobster. Pablo Neruda was a hit at my poetry sessions and to this day, I always pictured writing beautiful fiction, the likes of Isabelle Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Octavio Paz. So you can imagine that when I approached my college counselor about my desire to be a doctor, she looked at me as if she had just sucked on a whole lemon. She told me I was better suited for the "arts" or "poetry". I was heart-broken but not ready to give up. I took a year off and studied everyday for my MCAT while waitressing at a French/Italian cafe. I learned how to make an amazing Penne Arrabiata and I mastered the art of French Crepes. I did not want to give any medical school the opportunity to reject me. I thought, if coming from Cornell wouldn't be appealing enough, then maybe a good MCAT score and knowing how to cook would seal the deal. It did!!
I was accepted by UCLA Medical School and this is where I finally embraced the fact that I could actually solidify my dreams. I worked day and night to prove that I was just as capable and worthy to serve my community. I volunteered at a labor and delivery unit in Guadalajara, Mexico where I discovered my passion for surgery and helping women bring life into this world. I opted to attend a residency program at one of the toughest, most under-served hospitals in Los Angeles County, Harbor UCLA. This program was no joke. I was fed to the wolves and somehow survived well-versed in dog-speak. Harbor UCLA showed me how to be fearless on my own. There was no hand-holding. Some of the toughest cases I have ever seen in my life were part of my daily routine. Everyday, I thank my lucky stars to have been a part of such a wonderful program.
My journey, however, did not stop with residency. I was always drawn to the operating room and I wanted to sharpen my skills in minimally invasive surgery. I was especially interested in the Da Vinci Robot and its many applications in the surgical world. Thankfully, I was accepted to a fellowship program for minimally invasive and robotic surgery at Stanford University. Operating 4 days a week, sometimes 4-5 cases a day and conducting research was a grueling and humbling experience but when I completed my program I felt like I was finally polished.
I started this practice with a great vision. I had worked in the academic setting for several years and then I joined Kaiser Permanente where I was responsible for teaching residents and fellow colleagues minimally invasive surgery. I then joined a private practice where I gained valuable insight into what worked for patient satisfaction. I always knew I wanted to open up my own shop but was terrified that I did not have the business experience to actually pull it off. I knew how to take care of patients but if you were to ask me about labor codes or business models I would literally freeze (I still do sometimes but I am learning).
In 2013, I found myself at a crossroad: being forced to decide to remain an employee or take a chance on myself. I chose the latter and it was the best decision I ever made. I opened my practice with the help of Maribel Castaneda, my business manager and friend. She understood the business world and I was seasoned in how to provide compassionate care. The two of us literally pulled off the impossible. I used my life's savings to create a beautiful space where women could convene and feel as though they were visiting family and not actually going to the doctor.
Within two years, we realized that the space we rented was too small. We were literally bursting at the seams. I had created a monster and was drowning in work. I had the opportunity to design a new space with all the bells and whistles and I hired a nurse practitioner, Megan Miyahira, who helped me tremendously with our patient volume. I gave up Obstetrics in April 2017 and hired Dr. Sonia Rebeles that same year. She came with amazing experience and wanting a change. We were in dire need of help. It was serendipity at its best.
I am so happy to finally have the right balance. I can now focus on things that are of great interest to my patients and myself. I am happy to be expand our women's health services to include things like: hormone optimization, infertility care, Mona Lisa Laser therapy for dyspareunia and O-Shot for sexual dysfunction. We also offer acupuncture for various ailments and skin care services like radio frequency microneedling with PRP, hydrafacials & dermal infusions.
I am not your conventional doctor, that much is true. I am always open to the possibility that there might be a different non-conventional way of treating patients. I believe that patients should be allowed to dictate their care and this may not always translate to traditional western medicine. The beauty is that I am constantly learning, attending courses, researching products and staying at the forefront of new and innovative devices that could help my patients. I've never been afraid to take on new challenges and tackle problems until I find a solution. I approach my patient's needs the same way. I look forward to meeting you.
H. Elena Rodriguez. MD, Inc. © 2013 | All Rights Reserved
3440 Lomita Blvd. Suite 427, Torrance, CA 90505 310-325-9400 firstname.lastname@example.org