Eiko M. Watanabe Ballarta, MD
Palliative Care Medical Director
Dr. Watanabe knew early on that she would pursue a career in hospice and palliative medicine. It was during her residency in Puerto Rico that she experienced the devastating effects of Maria, a Category 5 hurricane. Many lives were lost due to a lack of essential services such as clean water, electricity, and dependable transportation. At that time, Dr. Watanabe provided palliative care for those patients who were confined to the hospital and recognized the powerful impact that palliative care could have on a patient and their family. Then in 2019, Dr. Watanabe experienced what it was like to be a patient herself. She was diagnosed with a blood clot after an extensive trip and her prognosis was not very promising. Dr. Watanabe was placed in intensive care with severe shortness of breath among other serious ailments. Her physicians supported both she and her family by educating them on her illness, delivering the necessary treatment and providing them with much needed psychosocial support; all vital components of a holistic, palliative care program.
Life experiences and her diverse background have molded Dr. Watanabe into a physician that patients can relate to. Patients are oftentimes surprised to hear her speak fluent Spanish and even more surprised to learn that she had once been a patient herself. Dr. Watanabe recognizes that each patient is unique; she treats each one while respecting their belief system, customs, and traditions, which are especially important during the dying process.
Dr. Watanabe attended medical and graduate school at San Martin De Porres University in Lima, Peru. She completed residency training in Internal Medicine, at Ramon Ruiz Arnau University Hospital in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. In 2019, she moved to Georgia and completed a fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at Atrium Health, Medical Center of Central Georgia.
In her free time, Dr. Watanabe enjoys spending time with her family and her cat. Her hobbies include running, traveling, and watching soccer games.