Business

Kona Pediatric Practice Expands

October 8, 2018, 7:57 AM HST
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Dr. Eddie Herd, a pediatrician formerly at Aliʻi Health in Keauhou, has started with the pediatric practice of Drs. Marta Derieg and Virginia Hatch-Pigott in Kailua-Kona.

Drs. Eddie Herd, Bob Laird, Virginia Hatch-Pigott & Marta Derieg. Courtesy photo.

Hospitals and healthcare groups are scrambling to remain financially viable in the ever-changing healthcare market. After Dr. Herd’s 11 years of service to the West Hawaiʻi community, Aliʻi Health is reducing their primary care services.

“The doctor shortage in Hawaiʻi is critical, and the Big Island’s shortage is the worst among the islands,” said Dr. Hatch-Pigott. “We were terrified at the prospect of losing a good doctor to another community. Dr. Derieg and I are delighted to welcome Dr. Herd into our practice.”

According to Kelley Withy, a researcher at the University of Hawaiʻi’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, Hawaiʻi is short 700 doctors short, and the deficit is steadily worsening.

“We’re not training enough doctors, not recruiting enough doctors, and many who do come from the mainland leave,” Withy said. “Sometimes they can’t afford a house. Our salaries are low here compared to the mainland. We are ranked second worst in the nation for salary reimbursement.”

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“With major insurers focusing on payment transformation, changing requirements have increased our need for support staff and technology to keep up. The growing costs threatened our practice,” said Dr. Hatch-Pigott. “Dr. Derieg and I were worried we were going to have to close our doors in the near future. This move really saved three doctors in our community.”

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Not only is this new partnership beneficial in keeping Dr. Herd in the community—joining the practice will help keep it viable. Physicians in private practice are not only providing medical care to the community, they are running small businesses with ever-increasing overhead without the resources of a hospital or healthcare group.

The group was started by Dr. Bob Laird, who was the very first pediatrician on the Kona Coast. He was hired by Kona Coast Medical Group in February 1978. In 1982, the group disbanded and Dr. Laird went out on his own, setting up practice in the old Gomes House on Aliʻi Drive. He moved several times before landing in the current location in Hillside Plaza in 1997. He welcomed Dr. Marta Derieg in 2001, forming the first pediatric group practice in West Hawaiʻi. After 35 years of serving the Kona Community, he handed over the reins to Dr. Hatch-Pigott in June 2013.

The ties between Dr. Bob Laird and Dr. Eddie Herd are deeper than this union, however.

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“I knew of Dr. Bob Laird first from Ironman,” said Dr. Herd. “I was a very active triathlete and I also knew he was a practicing pediatrician in Kona. When we would come to Kona to visit for races and such, we would drive by drive by Dr. Laird’s office and I would always think, ‘wow, how do you get that gig, to be a pediatrician in Kona?’ When I moved here in 2007 to work as a pediatric doctor, Dr. Bob took me under his wing and helped me understand the nuances of being able to practice pediatrics well in the outer islands.”

Ironman has continued to be a big part of Dr. Herd’s life. “Ironman Triathlon first brought me to the islands in 1997 and I was hooked,” said Dr. Herd.” I was fortunate enough to qualify for and then participate in five of the Ironman World Championships here in Kona. I have been able to volunteer and help in the medical tent as well. Now, my wife Belinda and I host athletes in our home from around the world as they come to Kona each year to race.”

His patients, however, continue to be the reason he is forever attached to Kona. “I am committed to this community,” said Dr. Herd. “I am at the point where I am now taking care of my patient’s children, and that is so fulfilling and rewarding. Were it not for this partnership, my family and I would have had to leave Kona. I’m very grateful that I get to join Dr. Derieg and Dr. Hatch-Pigott and keep serving my patients.”

The doctors credit Andy Lee, M.D., Medical Director at Hawaiʻi Health Partners, and Nahea Brenneman at HMSA for making the transition happen quickly and seamlessly for Dr. Herd’s patients.

Dr. Herd’s patients are now being seen at the office in Hillside Plaza, 76-6225 Kuakini Highway, Suite C-101 in Kailua-Kona. For appointments, call (808) 329-7067.

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