Special to Hawaii 24/7 by Elena Cabatu | Hilo Medical Center Community Relations Manager
Lt. Gov. James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr. presented a ceremonial check for $140,000 to support the multi-disciplinary physician training program at the Hawaii Island Family Health Center (HIFHC) in Hilo.
“I call the $140,000 an investment in the program. There are two reasons that encouraged the release of funding: community participation that persevered and left a significant impression on the governor and myself; and signs that the economy is turning, revenue is up,” Aiona said.
“I thank the governor for approving the release of funds for the residency program,” said Howard N. Ainsley, East Hawaii Regional CEO for Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. “This is a wonderful occasion for our community, collaborating partners and supporters who believe in this program wholeheartedly.”
“The release of state funding will go along way to promote the residency program by showing that state supports the program,” said Brian Iwata, East Hawaii Regional Board Finance Committee Chairman.
“Additional funding sources had been a little hesitant to commit anything, as they felt the state hadn’t committed,” said Boyd Murayama, Hilo Medical Center Medical Group Practice Director. “The state’s commitment adds to the ability for other sources to be more willing to look at our requests.”
The state’s appropriation of $70,000 each for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 is intended to go toward further developing the training program in downtown Hilo. HIFHC opened in April 2009 with Dr. Lucy Bucci, HIFHC Site Director, caring for 634 patients in its first year of operation. In April 2010, Dr. Junedale Nishiyama joined the clinic as the second faculty physician.
In this program, newly graduated medical doctors (“residents”) would spend three years undergoing specialty training in family practice under the direction of UH Manoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.
The next goal is to begin an accredited Family Medicine Residency Program at the site. The medical school hopes to graduate four family medicine specialists per year.
In addition to being the sponsoring hospital of the residency program, Hilo Medical Center manages the daily operations of the clinic. The clinic was originally launched by University Clinical Education Research Associates, the faculty practice plan at the University of Hawaii’s medical school.
Collaborating partners include: Hilo Medical Center, UH Manoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine; UH Manoa’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene; UH Hilo School of Nursing; UH Hilo’s College of Pharmacy; and UH Manoa’s Department of Psychiatry. Major funding has been provided by the U.S. government (TRI-WEST), HMSA, Hilo Medical Center Foundation and the citizens of the Big Island.