UH Medical School puts family practice in Hilo
HMSA is funding the program to overcome a shortage of doctors
The John A. Burns School of Medicine has established its first family practice residency in Hilo to help overcome a physician shortage in the area.
The Hawaii Medical Service Association Foundation is funding the program with $535,000 over the next three years, starting with $300,000 for the next fiscal year, officials announced last week.
Cliff Cisco, HMSA Foundation vice president, said the Hilo residency "highlights our belief that challenges are best resolved when all segments of the health care community work together to solve problems."
JABSOM anticipates more funding in the next three years from the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, the Legislature and revenue from sponsoring hospitals.
The residency will be at a Hawaii Health Systems Corp. clinic. The residency clinical faculty in Hilo comprises two family physicians.
Big Island Mayor Harry Kim, in a news release, noted that last year he said health care in Hawaii County "is in a crisis. We are pleased and optimistic that the university medical school, HMSA and HHSC-Hilo Medical Center have put together a way to quickly add to the number of family doctors this year," he said.
The hope is that doctors who do their residency in Hilo will decide to stay there.
The Family Medicine Residency Program has graduated six physicians each year since 1994. Sixty percent are in rural, underserved or academic family medicine, said Dr. Allen Hixon, residency director in the Department of Family Medicine and community Health.
"It is a long-range solution where we envision sending physicians in residency to Maui, Kona, Kauai and Molokai, along with added numbers in the current program at Wahiawa General Hospital," he said.
The UH School of Medicine will rotate graduates into the Hilo Family Medicine program each year to ensure continued primary care physicians in the region.