A Moment with HPU’s New Medical Director: ‘They Are Our Children, Too.’

Dec 15th, 2020

A Moment with HPU’s New Medical Director: ‘They Are Our Children, Too.’

Dr. Anne Lule-Kiwanuka pursued medicine because of her childhood.

She bounced in and out of hospitals because of her asthma and allergies to everything, from milk and shellfish, to pineapples, oranges and eggs.

As all mothers with children facing food allergies, her mom learned how to make cakes without eggs or milk for her daughter, one of her four children. Her father, who was an International Monetary Fund banking expert, was stationed in various countries. Dr Lule-Kiwanuka says she has lived in 10 different countries and visited many more. But no matter where they lived, her health was a challenge.

“It’s got to be better than this,” she told herself frequently.

It did get better. Lule-Kiwanuka went to medical school at the National University of Ireland and embarked on a 30-year medical career that landed her at Novant Health, serving as High Point University’s full-time medical director this past August.

Dr. Lule-Kiwanuka is a wife, a sister, a daughter and a mother to a 21-year-old son. In the Q&A below, she talks about what led her to HPU and what gives her peace of mind during a global pandemic.


What influenced you to study medicine?

I had a very complicated childhood. I had asthma, and I was allergic to milk, eggs, oranges, tuna, shellfish, horse and dog hair, outdoor pollen, even pineapple. That’s what got me interested in medicine. I didn’t want another child to go through what I went through, and today when I talk to parents who have children with allergies, I always tell them, ‘You can do this. Your child will grow and do just fine.’

Why did you decide to become a pediatrician?

I don’t know whether you can simply classify me as an adolescent pediatrician. I have had patients from birth to 21 years. There were instances when I saw adult patients with special needs. Over the years I’ve seen my former patients come to me with their children. I call them my ‘grand patients.’ That’s very rewarding because it affirms the type of care I’ve given in the past. Parents entrust you with their children, and a good physician embraces that.

Being a pediatrician, you have the privilege of helping growth – physical, developmental, emotional growth. You work with the family to realize a child’s potential. As they enter adolescence the partnership shifts to them and their pediatrician. As a college physician I am still continuing that partnership. I am partnering with late adolescents. My goals remain the same – promoting physical, developmental and emotional growth. It is about helping them realize their potential.

What attracted you to High Point University?

I was doing general pediatrics as a medical director at Atrium (in Charlotte), and I received an email from a physician recruiter telling me that Novant Health, High Point University’s health care partner, was looking for a medical director for HPU’s Student Health Services.

So, I researched HPU, and I was amazed at what I found. The university had made such a big impact not only on students but on the community outside campus, and it has such foresight in helping students realize their potential.

When I visited the health center, I met Alicia, Rhys and all of the staff. They all had been there at least 9-10 years, and they were in love with their jobs. Everyone was 100% invested in making sure the students receive exemplary care – both physical and mental. They want their students to be well-balanced individuals. They care for the whole patient.

Did you want to become the medical director of a clinic that solely serves college students?

I have been practicing for 30 years. I have been hospital-based and an outpatient pediatrician, and the doctor for a private international school with day and boarding students. I enjoyed that aspect of practice and have focused more on adolescents. I enjoy the interaction and assisting them to make healthy decisions. I enjoy that one-on-one feedback. After being at HPU Student Health Services these past few months, I am certain I made the right decision.

What do you want students and parents to know about HPU Student Health Services’ approach to care?

When we see students, we treat them not only as our patients, but we treat them like our own children. Each one of us spends time talking to the students outside of their diagnosis and management to make sure they are doing alright overall. We urge them to follow up with any concerns or questions. I can relate to their needs as I was a 19-year-old in medical school in Ireland when my parents were in Australia due to my father’s work.

So, parents should rest assured. We’re not only seeing students as patients. They are our children, too.

You began your role during a global pandemic. What role has the new clinic, Novant Health and HPU’s plan to combat COVID-19, such as its campus protocols and quarantine plan, played in mitigating the spread of the virus?

High Point University had the foresight to expand the Student Health Center to a 6,500-square-foot facility. We have the ability to have one section for sick care and another section for well care. Our well patients move through the facility with no interaction with those who are sick.

We have worked very closely with HPU Student Life for each student that has been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive. Arrangements for isolation or quarantine have been efficient and effective. We have had regular meetings with the Guilford County Health Department and are able to share information and resources. All that has mitigated the spread.

Based on everything you’ve experienced as a physician during this pandemic, what advice do you have for students and their parents so they can continue to stay healthy and calm any concerns?

I’d reassure them that the simple things matter. I encourage wearing masks, engaging in hand washing, social distancing and heeding the advice from the CDC. Those simple actions save lives.

At the Student Health Center, we have not had a member of our staff get sick from COVID-19. We wash our hands and wear our masks, our face shields and the rest of our PPE. We physically distance. We make sure that we are not in the break room at the same time. We look out for each other.

Novant Health, a major health system, has partnered with HPU. Describe the benefits of this partnership, particularly over the past few months during a global pandemic with school in session?

Yes, it’s a true partnership. The Student Health Center is an integrated part of the Novant Health network. Because of that, our students have access to an unlimited network of specialists and resources. Everything is easily accessible, and it allows us to have the best patient management and outcomes.

You’ve had long, stressful days dealing with the treatment of students and the running of HPU’s new clinic during the first global pandemic to hit the U.S. in more than a century. What do you do to keep your own stress at bay?

When I leave work and go home, I shed my doctor persona. I try to focus on things I love. I love to read. I love to bake. I love to cook. My home is my safe space. Whether you’re a doctor, a police officer, a teacher, etc., you need to be able to find your safe space. At the end of each day, you need to relax where you love to be and with whom you love to be. You thank God for those blessings. Then you’re ready to go out the next day.


About Dr. Anne Lule-Kiwanuka

In her three decades of practicing medicine, she has had quite the career. After graduating in 1990 from the Galway School of Medicine at the National University of Ireland, she went on to the following: a two-year pediatric residency with England’s National Health Service, a three-year pediatric residency at the University of Connecticut, and an 18-month emergency room pediatric fellowship at New York City’s Montefiore Hospital. As for her accomplishments, she has received Board of Certification in Pediatrics with the American Board of Pediatrics, 1997 to the present, and she is a Fellow with the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1996 to the present. In her past leadership positions, she has been a board director for Floyd Healthcare Management in Georgia, a member of the Board of Trustees with the Georgia Hospital Association and a medical director with Atrium Healthcare in Charlotte.