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Physicians Selected for Hilo Residency Program

March 31, 2014, 5:35 PM HST (Updated April 1, 2014, 1:45 PM)
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The first class of resident physicians has been selected for a program in Hilo designed to add to the Big Island’s dwindling number of doctors.

Hamed Ahmadinia, Svetlana Shchedrina, Kavita Rama Nathan and Ka′ohimanu Akiona will be working under instructor physicians at Hilo Medical Center’s Hawaii Island Family Residency Program, located on Mohouli Street.

The four residents were matched to the Hilo center earlier this month.

The center is a partnership of the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy and School of Nursing, the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene, and I Ola Lahui, a behavioral health training program.

Howard Ainsley, East Hawaii regional CEO of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, which operates the state’s hospitals, applauded the efforts of all involved in making the center a reality.

“These four individuals come to us with diverse backgrounds and life experiences,” Ainsley said. “We are excited about this moment in our program’s history and we look forward to our residents’ journey in their training and incorporation into our community.”

The four were among 112 residents who applied for the positions. They are expected to complete their training in 2017.

Dr. Kristine McCoy, the center’s director, said she welcomes the new physicians’ commitment to meeting the needs of Hawaii Island and the neighbor islands.

Dr. Kristine McCoy, director of the Hawaii Island Family Medicine Residency program. Courtesy photo.

Dr. Kristine McCoy. Courtesy photo.

“Their training will be tailored to give them the skills to keep our communities as healthy as possible,” McCoy said.

Hilo was chosen in 2010 to provide a rural setting for the residency program. It is based on research that shows that physicians tend to remain in areas where they conduct their residency.

The first team of residents will begin their new work on July 1.

The Big Island is experiencing a worsening physician shortage. A 2012 study showed it with only 341 doctors, 34% fewer than the 514 needed to adequately care for the island’s population.

One of the fields in particular need is primary care. A survey that same year by Karen Pellegrin of the UH-Hilo pharmacy school indicated that the Big Island will lose nearly a third of its physicians within the next five years because of retirement and other causes.

Hilo Medical Center spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said the center’s physicians and their teams will provide routine screenings and proactive care for debilitating diseases, such as diabetes and coronary heart disease, that when caught early can prevent avoidable emergency room visits and hospitalizations and keep the community healthy.

For more information on the residency program, visit www.hifmr.org.

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