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Dr. Diego Maldonado Provides Innovative New Treatment for COPD

Diego Maldonado, MD, a pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital and family man, comes from a long line of medical professionals. His father and uncle are physicians and his mother is a nurse. His son is a pre-med major in college and his eldest daughter is an architect who designs hospitals and medical facilities. One could say medicine is in his blood. Originally from Ecuador, Dr. Maldonado and his family moved to the United States to expand their opportunities.

When he has spare time, you’ll find Dr. Maldonado enjoying the outdoor life in Vero Beach. In addition to playing tennis 2-3 times per week, Dr. Maldonado can be found fishing on the river with his children. “My son and younger daughter love to fish. We like to take the boat out on the river. Vero Beach is a beautiful place,” he noted. And he didn’t find this place by accident. It was Dr. Maldonado’s longtime friend, local cardiologist, Dr. Arley Peter, who suggested visiting Vero after moving to the area himself. “Dr. Peter came here and loved it. My wife and I wanted to raise our family in a small place that is family oriented, so we moved to Vero Beach. It’s very difficult not to like this area.”

Traveling the world has always been important to the Maldonados. “We love to learn about culture, food and the arts,” he said. Both Dr. Maldonado and his son are PADI certified in recreational diving and have completed 20-30 dives around the world in places like Cozumel, Mexico; Hawaii; the Dominican Republic; and Ecuador; as well as locations around Florida. Fellowship trained in pulmonary medicine and critical care, Dr. Maldonado has first-hand knowledge when treating patients with complications from diving. “We see patients who have had diving accidents and treat them very safely. For me, diving became not just a hobby, but also a professional interest in the sense that I can treat these divers at our hospital if they experience pulmonary complications.”

A hard worker who appreciates a challenge, Dr. Maldonado studied at University of Miami- Jackson Memorial Hospital and is board certified in internal medicine, critical care medicine and pulmonary disease. He is particularly proud of Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital’s pulmonary services expansion. “Over the last several years, we have developed interventional pulmonary services, a lung cancer program, a pulmonary hypertension program and, most importantly, we work very closely with the doctors in the community. Now we are looking at a goal of achieving lung center of excellence status,” he enthused. “The Cleveland Clinic integration is a dream come true and will continue to benefit our community in so many ways.”

Dr. Maldonado, in collaboration with physicians at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston, recently began offering a new procedure designed to help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or advanced emphysema. The FDA-approved procedure, Endoscopic Lung Volume Reduction (eLVR) is a minimally invasive, non-surgical treatment option that allows patients to breathe easier after endobronchial valves are placed in their lungs. Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital is the first hospital on the Treasure Coast to offer this new treatment option for patients with advanced respiratory conditions, and Dr. Maldonado is excited about leading this new initiative.

“This innovative lung treatment offers patients living with COPD an opportunity to significantly improve their overall quality of life,” said Dr. Maldonado. “We are excited to be the first hospital in our area to provide eLVR treatment. This is a perfect example of Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital striving to provide patients with the latest innovation and services.”

Dr. Maldonado offers services in pulmonary medicine, including interventional bronchoscopy and medical thoracoscopy for the diagnosis and management of lung cancer and pleural disease. He also diagnoses and treats other pulmonary conditions such as asthma, emphysema and COPD, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis and sleep apnea. Dr. Maldonado’s office is located at the Health and Wellness Center at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 772-794-5800.

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