East Hawaii News

Hilo Family Medicine Residency Program Accredited

October 28, 2013, 12:09 PM HST
* Updated October 28, 3:58 PM
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A program designed to increase the number of physicians on the Big Island has been granted accreditation.

Hilo Medical Center’s Hawaii Island Family Medicine Residency program last week received the approval of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

The two-year accreditation will be effective July 1, 2014, HMC spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said today.

The program, funded earlier this year through a $1.8 million appropriation from the state Legislature, will accept its first class of family medicine residents next summer, Cabatu said.

The four new residents will be working along with a team of pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners and psychologists.

The first family medicine residents, who will be working under faculty physicians at the Hawaii Island Family Health Center on Mohouli Street in Hilo, are scheduled to complete their training in 2017.

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

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

Dr. Kristine McCoy, director of the Hawaii Island Family Medicine Residency program, said in the meantime, the resident doctors and their instructor physicians “will play a significant role in caring for the people of East Hawaii in many settings, including the clinic, the hospital, our community’s long term care facilities, and in hospice care.”

Health care officials say the Big Island is experiencing a worsening doctor shortage, and last year was 173 physicians short of the 514 needed to care for its population.

“The accreditation of the HHSC Primary Care Training Program is one of the most important milestones in the history of our program,” said Howard Ainsley, chief operating officer of the East Hawaii Regional of the Hawaii Health System Corporation, the state’s hospital system.

“Thanks to the collective effort to achieve accreditation, we will be able to move forward in solving the primary care physician shortage in our state and bring better health outcomes to our community.”

The Hilo residency program was established under HMC 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.

Funds for the program were initially appropriated by the Legislature in 2008, but the monies were not released by then-Gov. Linda Lingle.

A variety of public and private entities then began raising money for the project under the auspices of the Hilo Medical Center Foundation.

While some subsequent state appropriations were released, others contributing included the Hawaii Medical Services Association, Hawaii County Council, Atherton Foundation and several family foundations. More contributions came from fund-raising efforts by the Rotary Club of South Hilo and Rotary Club of Hilo.

This past August, UnitedHealthcare provided $250,000 for the effort, and earlier this month the $1.8 in state funding from the past session was released by the governor’s office.

For information on contributing, contact Hilo Medical Center Foundation Executive Director Lori Rogers at 935-2957, [email protected] or go to www.hilomedicalcenterfoundation.org.

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