UH med school receives $3M gift to grow program
In the latest of many gifts over the years to the University of Hawaii, philanthropists Barry and Virginia Weinman recently gave $3 million to the John A. Burns School of Medicine to establish a Dean's Chair in Medicine.
Dean Jerris Hedges said the new chair "will enhance the school's ability to be a driving force in the islands for excellence -- in medical education, biomedical research, clinical practice and in health care policy."
An initial $100,000 will be used to hire biostatisticians and build a team with local analysts and health researchers to look at data and trends to help address Hawaii's health care and work-force issues, Hedges said.
In other action to meet community health needs, he said the school proposes to increase the class size to 68 students from 62 in 2010 and expand the Imi Ho'ola Program to help disadvantaged students go into medicine.
Residency programs also will be expanded to place medical trainees on the neighbor islands, particularly in Hilo, to let them see the opportunities for practices there, he said.
In a ceremony honoring the Weinmans, UH President David McClain noted their many gifts to the university, such as $1 million pledged in 2006 to establish the Barry and Virginia Weinman Fellowship to cover tuition and expenses for four years for 10 medical students.
The couple asked that the recipients return to Hawaii after the internship and residency to practice in Hawaii, especially in rural and underserved areas.
Barry Weinman, who has made venture capital investments since 1980, is chairman of the UH Centennial Campaign Cabinet, and his wife is a cabinet member. He also is a foundation trustee and chairs the foundation board's investment committee. The couple established the new endowment to encourage additional gifts in support of UH and the medical school during the last year of the Centennial Campaign.
As campaign chairman, he said, "it is very rewarding to see our total at $239.4 million, with just $10.6 million to go to reach our goal."
Weinman said he and his wife are concerned about Hawaii's medical crisis, with many physicians leaving the islands because of low reimbursements and prohibitively expensive medical malpractice costs.
Students leave medical school with debts of $150,000 or more, then have to buy exorbitant malpractice insurance, he said. "It's quite a bill before they see the first patient.
"The Legislature can't do much, if anything, about Medicare, but has the power to reform escalating medical malpractice insurance premiums, as most other states have done, to help keep doctors in Hawaii."