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UH Medical School Deploys First Full-Time OB-GYN Faculty/Provider in Hilo

May 23, 2017, 1:54 PM HST
* Updated May 23, 1:59 PM
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On May 12, 2017, the UH medical school’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health announced the deployment of Dr. Kareem Khozaim to serve patients in Hilo.

Dr. Kareem Khozaim will be the first OB-GYN doctor in Hilo employed by University Health Partners. As an OB-GYN generalist, Dr. Khozaim’s main focus will be on taking care of women from adolescence to their elderly lives and will serve patients in East Hawai’i and also help to teach the next generation of physicians.

Mayor Harry Kim (standing) with Dr. Ivica Zalud and Dean Jerris Hedges of JABSOM. Photo Courtesy

Noted as being “ground zero” in the state’s physician shortage, there has been a need for primary-care physicians in rural Big Island. The most recent Hawai’i Physician Workforce Assessment calculated that Hawai’i Island has 20% fewer doctors than it needs to serve its current population.

Dr. Khozaim is also an assistant clinical professor and will help to train other physicians beginning next year when the John A. Burns School of Medicine OB-GYN residency program begins regular clinical rotations of MDs in their third-year of training on Hawai’i Island.

During the program, future doctors will have the opportunity to see what rural medicine can be like as they care for patients (under faculty supervision) in an under served community. The hope is that after the program, the MDs will consider opening their own practices in East Hawai’i when their training is complete.

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“To people from outside of Hawaiʻi Island, I can never express what this means to us,” said Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim. “This is almost like a culmination of years and years of trying to get more medical resources here. And I can’t say enough how much of a breakthrough this is for Hawaiʻi people.”

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Dr. Khozaim graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He completed his residency at Indiana University in July 2014.

“On a global level, women have gotten the short end of the stick in almost every way,” Dr. Khozaim said. “A woman’s medical health is intimately intertwined with her socioeconomic status, and as an OB-GYN I hope to significantly affect both. A strategy as simple as helping a woman manage her fertility can have profound effects on an entire family’s socioeconomic status.”

Dr. Khozaim worked in Kenya during his medical school and residency training. During that time, he focused on providing cervical cancer screening for women with HIV. After his residency, he was employed at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Tropical Medical Center in Pago Pago, American Samoa.

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“I loved it there [in American Samoa],” Dr. Khozaim said. “From a physician perspective, I was able to see and do many things that probably I probably wouldn’t see or do in the US mainland too much.”

One of his main projects at the LBJ Tropical Medical Center was establishing and developing minimally invasive gynecologic surgery services.

Dr. Khozaim says he hopes to inspire newly trained physicians to provide services on Hilo or in other areas in need of medical services.

“I am very excited about UH and UHP partnering with Hilo Bay Clinic,” he said. “A UH presence in the Big Island seems long overdue and I think everyone is optimistic about the positive impact UH can have on Hilo, and the Big Island in general. This community definitely deserves our attention.”

State Senator Lorraine Inouye of Hilo, and former Mayor of Hawaiʻi County said, “OB-GYN is so much needed for the region. Most of us have been going to O’ahu to get the care we need for women’s health issues. I’m so pleased that we are at the brink of another chapter of better health care for East Hawai’i.”

Dr. Khozaim is now seeing patients at Bay Clinic’s Hilo Women’s Health Center located at 73 Pu’uhonu Place, Suite 204. The phone number is (808) 333-3500.

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