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Beyond the White Coat

Profiles of our Women's Health Providers

Dr. Change and daughter rehearsign Bye Bye Birdy“What’s the story morning glory? What’s the tale nightingale?” is how the story begins. 

“This is what I do when I am at home,” Gene Chang, M.D., from the Department of Ob/Gyn, states somewhat seriously as he waves to an invisible audience.

“It is common in my house for my wife or son to be at home rehearsing lines with my daughter,” he continues. “When they are ready to perform, a hush falls over the room and the mood is as serious as I might find in an operating room. It’s actually quite scary.” Chang pauses, takes a deep breath and continues smiling. “Sometimes I even get to stand-in for rehearsal.”

“Right now, we are helping my daughter prepare for her role in Bye-Bye-Birdie which her theater group will perform at Piccolo Spoleto,” he adds proudly. ”Her acting/singing is something totally different for us and I didn’t think I would ever have been interested in before. I credit my daughter for introducing me to Hamilton, which is now an obsession for me.”

He laughs easily and then adds, “You know, I think I’d love to act. In fact, I’d like to be that actor-what’s his name-Ken Jeong? You know he’s actually a doctor and has his own TV show. I want to be that guy in my spare time.”

These are not the words you expect to hear from this Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist, a physician who cares for some of the most complicated of pregnancies. He continues talking and claims that he always wanted to be a doctor even though he didn’t come from a family of doctors. “I don’t know if that idea was self-generated or parental programming. I just knew from an early age that I would be a doctor.”

“I was born just outside of San Francisco, but my mother’s work brought my family cross country to the East Coast moving first to New York, then Philadelphia and Miami before landing in Virginia. I went to medical school at the Medical College of Virginia and then came to Charleston for my residency where I met my wife who is also a physician. Following 4 years in the Air Force, I did my fellowship in Maternal Fetal Medicine at MUSC and have remained on staff ever since. Now, I spend much of my time seeing patients in our Fetal Care Center.”

“When I was a resident, I actually answered a casting call for the sequel to Ace Ventura which was filming in Charleston,” he adds during a break in the conversation. “one of the questions the producers asked was whether I would be willing to shave my head for an additional $75. Naturally, I said yes. I was actually cast as a monk in the movie but had to pull out last minute because of work. I think if I’d been in that movie, I would have become Ken Jeong!” he teases, with a bit of Dennis the Menace quality in his voice, and on his face. It’s difficult to know whether he is joking or not as he grabs a piece of candy from the candy bowl on his desk, popping it in between the infectious grin spread across his handsome face. Most likely, he is joking.

When asked how he spends his leisure time, he responds without hesitation. “I’m my kids’ dad and I’m my wife’s husband. It’s pretty amazing how accomplished they are, I just ride their coat-tails. I spend time with my daughter rapping Hamilton or learning about her newest role and I am my son’s biggest fan for whatever sport he is playing. His sport is whatever is in season and I try to help him prepare,” he states with pleasure. “You can often see us throwing a football by our house, playing basketball in the driveway, or taking batting practice at the batting cages near our house.”

“As for me, I play guitar when I can and I love to play golf, though I’m no Tiger Woods- I’m more like Happy Gilmore. Thankfully my colleagues Chris Goodier, Robbie Conatser, and Keith Willan don’t talk too much smack and let me play with them.” He smiles again impishly.

Dr. Change and a studentAs the conversation turns to his profession, the humor is checked and the serious, engaged, and dedicated physician emerges once again. “Fundamentally, my instinct is to be a teacher and sometimes I wonder whether I am a doctor who teaches or a teacher who doctors. It’s a toss-up.  Either way, teaching is a big part of what we do with patients when we diagnose abnormalities in their baby,” When asked to describe why he has chosen to care for the most vulnerable of patients, Dr. Chang explains, “Taking care of babies with malformations is tough and can be emotionally draining. My quirky sense of humor is a way to deal with this I guess. Anyway, for the longest time, we could only “diagnose,” but now we can “fix” some of the problems we find in babies which is cool. We are reimagining the possibilities and hopefully making a difference and this is what drives me to do what I do.”

“My job,” he continues “Is to understand and to be respectful of my patients’ beliefs and desires, and to help them achieve a degree of humanity at this most difficult of times,” he states quite compassionately.

Once again, Gene Chang’s quiet, easy manner fills the air and carries you effortlessly into a place which feels comfortable and secure, setting his audience at ease. A quick and faint smile crosses his face as he sits at his desk surrounded by photos of his family, his friends, and his accomplishments, and in that moment you realize this is no act. Dr. Eugene Chang is the real deal and he is no stand-in. Bravo, Dr. Chang.

For more information on Dr. Chang visit MUSC Health Womens Health or call 843-876-1200.        

Dr. Christopher Goodier on the golf courseSitting behind an ordinary desk wearing a Chicago Cubs World Series jacket, with an autographed sketch of Arnold Palmer gracing one wall of the room, and a collage of New Orleans Jazz Festival posters on another, Dr. Christopher Goodier begins the conversation with, "I am kind of boring." The artwork alone typifies the true nature of this quiet, unassuming man and belies the accuracy of such a self-deprecating statement. We continue speaking about his life, his passion for medicine, and his dedication to his family as he quietly states, "Please call me Chris. I prefer that over Dr. Goodier."

Born and raised in New Orleans, he describes his childhood as being family-centered; a value he strongly embraces within his own family and medical practice. "I was fortunate enough to grow up in a great family, playing golf with my father and brother, and watching my sisters play sports. That was, and still is a very important aspect of my life."  

"My father gave me the picture of Arnold Palmer after he met him a long time ago, so it’s very special to me." After a slight pause in the conversation he continues, "At first I didn’t really appreciate it, but when I found it a few years ago I realized how cool it was. It’s a symbol of all the time I spent with my family and when I look at it, I think of them."

Laughing, he added, "I was a better golfer when I had more time to play!" Today, he makes time to play with his wife and two children when he can. "Our time on the golf course is special because I work a great deal and when we play golf, we talk and just have fun. I also love watching my kids play the sports I love – basketball, golf, whatever, and playing with them as well." The smile on his face clearly says what’s in his heart, why Arnold Palmer adorns his office wall, and why golf remains important in his life.

Having grown up in New Orleans, the move to Charleston was almost a natural for him and his family. "The two cities are similar in so many ways – history, art, architecture, food," he explains. "My wife and I made so many great friends at Clemson, the Carolinas felt like the right place for us. We found our home here."

After college, Chris worked for a healthcare consulting firm, while his wife attended graduate school. In this role, he traveled throughout the country advising healthcare organizations on business principles to help them remain solvent in a changing environment. Upon graduation, Beth was offered a position with the College of Charleston, and the possibility of becoming a doctor became a reality – medical school at MUSC was on the horizon.

Entering medical school somewhat later in life than the average student, Chris originally entertained the idea of becoming a surgeon. After careful consideration, with his family’s needs at the forefront of that decision, he eventually landed on obstetrics and gynecology with a final leap towards maternal fetal medicine.

Through his role as a maternal fetal medicine specialist, he has once again taken on the role of providing guidance, consultation, and support. "I try to put myself in my patients’ shoes, which I truly can’t do," he explains honestly. "I have never had to deal with the choices and decisions facing them, but it is my job to sit and listen, and to provide the best advice my experience and training allows. And, regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy, I always, always follow-up and try to keep in touch no matter how much time has passed since I last saw them."

With that caring and thoughtful comment, the conversation easily turns to the Clemson Tigers, the New Orleans Saints, Harry Connick, Jr., and Mardi Gras. When asked about how he celebrated Mardi Gras growing up, he smiles and says, "We always went to the parades. In fact, last week I flew down to New Orleans to be with my family to watch my dad and brother-in-law ride in the parade." Again, his smile illustrates the essence of this man and the value he places on family. Visions of purple, gold and green beads come to mind along with jambalaya, shrimp creole, chicory coffee, and all the wonders that New Orleans has to offer. One of those wonders is Chris Goodier – who by the way is not boring at all.

For more information about Christopher Goodier. M.D., or to schedule an appointment in Charleston or North Charleston, visit MUSC Health Women's Health or call 843-876-0880 or 843-876-1200.

Raksha Soora, M.D., OB-GYN“I love to eat,” proclaims Raksha Soora, OB-GYN and Assistant Professor with MUSC Women’s Health, which is why you can often find her “appetizer-hopping” down King Street in Charleston, along with fellow physician and husband, Brad. “As long as it’s not red meat, I enjoy eating any food, from just about any country or region,” added Raksha. Having been born, literally in small town America — Americus, Georgia to be exact — to Indian parents, Raksha grew up on the exotic flavors and aromas of curry, ginger, cumin, turmeric and other spices, thoroughly preparing her palate for a variety of food experiences In Charleston, Iceland, Bali and other favorite travel destinations.

While food is important, family and career has always been even more so. After her father graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in engineering, the family moved to Arkansas where she grew up in what she describes as “a very normal childhood.” “No one in my family was in medicine, everyone was in engineering,” laughs Raksha, “but even as a young child, I always wanted to be a doctor.” When asked where the desire to be a doctor came from, Raksha states, “I’ve always liked using my hands, and being a doctor gives me the ability to use my hands to care for people and solve mysteries at the same time. It’s a perfect balance between two interests.”

Raksha Soora, M.D., OB-GYNBut using her hands to care for people is not her only talent. Her parents, her brother, her “double cousins,” and she are known for using both the left and right sides of their brains — all are musically inclined. Raksha learned to play the piano at age six and continues to play today. Eastern classical, western classical, Broadway, pop with a little contemporary Bollywood thrown in, Raksha can play the full spectrum when given the opportunity to sit at a keyboard. When her cousin’s wedding band, 919, comes to Charleston, don’t be surprised if you find Raksha at the microphone serenading the newly wedded couple as well. You see, she doesn’t just play an instrument-she also sings. Just visit ITunes and download the music of Dhamakapella – an Indian, co-ed, a cappella group, co-founded at Case Western Reserve University by none other than our very own, Dr. Soora.

While her musical career and talents are quietly tucked away until the next family holiday gathering, concert or wedding, Raksha truly enjoys her chosen and very important career in obstetrics and gynecology at MUSC. Spending her days in Summerville and North Charleston seeing women of all ages, for different reasons, she describes her work as almost like “hanging out with my friends.” She loves getting to know these women “in a conversational way” and learning about their lives and their families and just being there when they need help, or advice, or an expert to deliver their first, or last baby — this is where she likes using her hands the most. “Being an OB-GYN was the last specialty I thought I would choose, but this is where I belong,” states Raksha proudly.

For more information about Raksha Soora or to schedule an appointment, visit MUSC Women's Health online or call 843-876-0880. And, the next time you are on King Street, look for Raksha sharing an appetizer with hubby and friends, or sitting at a keyboard entertaining the crowd. 

Krista WagonerFrom the mountains of West Virginia to the Lowcountry of South Carolina, Krista Wagoner, M.D., OB-GYN, has finally found the place she wants to call home. Growing up in West Virginia, Dr. Wagoner spent her childhood hiking, camping and enjoying the great outdoors. While she loved being outside and active, she also loved science, and at the very early age of thirteen, she decided she wanted to become a doctor. When the time arrived for her to act on that decision and move beyond childhood and adolescence, she traveled to North Carolina to attend college. Upon graduation, West Virginia beckoned her back for medical school, but it wasn’t long before she was on the move again landing in Charleston for her residency. Once in Charleston, Dr. Wagoner discovered there were no mountains and few campgrounds to keep her actively entertained, but soon uncovered the beauty and charm of outdoor life in the marshes, beaches and bridges of our city.   

Celebrating and advocating for a healthy lifestyle, you can often find Dr. Wagoner at sunrise, cycling across the Ravenel Bridge, paddle boarding down a familiar marsh on James Island, or settling into a day at Folly Beach with her umbrella, chair and cooler filled with beverages and snacks to last the day. While she definitely takes advantage of all the outdoor activities Charleston has to offer, she is never far removed from her greatest passion — women’s health — and her practice in Mount Pleasant where she provides comprehensive OB-GYN services to women of all ages. She has a particular fondness for pregnant women, for whom she is able to provide many months of care during a pregnancy, and with whom she is able to develop a special relationship. While it may seem clichéd to say that delivering babies is her favorite part of her profession, the delivery itself is a culmination of a nine month relationship during which she and her patients share a special bond, and which on a personal note, makes her career choice so special.

Having completed her training at MUSC, Dr. Wagoner also has a distinct appreciation of the importance of being affiliated with an academic medical center. Particularly in the field of women’s health, which covers the many different stages of life, here at MUSC, “Our patients have the benefit of having the eyes, ears and minds of multiple experts participating in our patients' care,” states Dr. Wagoner.    

For more information on Dr. Wagoner or to schedule an appointment, call 843-876-3292 or visit MUSC Women's Health