Progress continues at the Hawaii Island Family Health Center
Hilo, Hawaii – Video by David Corrigan
The media was invited to attend an informal roundtable discussion on Friday, talking about the latest developments surrounding Hilo’s Hawaii Island Family Health Center.
Touted as an innovative step towards sustainable health care on the Big Island, HIFHC is an interdisciplinary training site for medical students, residents, nurse practitioner students, nursing students, pharmacy students and others. It is the only clinic of its kind in Hawaii.
The HIFHC says its goal is to develop and staff the clinic to become an accredited Family Medicine Residency program. As a part of UH Manoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH), the program consists of a 3-year training period, allowing for 4 residents to graduate each year. The hope is that the medical professionals will stay to practice medicine on the island after their residency is over.
The clinic opened on April 1, 2009, and in that time 634 patients have received care.
Directors of the Hawaii Island Family Health Center said the service is now under Hilo hospital management. March 1st marked the official transfer of operational oversight of HIFHC from UH Manoa’s JABSOM to Hilo Medical Center. HMC says the decision to bring the clinic under local leadership was made at the end of 2009 by the East Hawaii Region Administration to ensure the success of the program.
The roundtable group was also proud to announce that a second faculty member, Dr. Junedale Nishiyama, joined the practice on April 1 this year. Support staff at the practice currently includes a clinic manager, one medical assistant, and one receptionist. Dr. Lucy Bucci has been the HIFHC Site Director since it opened in April 2009. Both Dr. Bucci and Dr. Nishiyama offer Family-Centered Maternity/Obstetric care, and Primary Care Gynecology, services in addition to providing family care.
According to a HMC media release:
The initial goal of the program is to form a core group of providers consisting of four full-time Family Physician faculty, a UH Manoa faculty nurse practitioner, and a UH Hilo College of Pharmacy faculty position. Several part-time preceptors (community doctors and specialists) will be incorporated into the training as necessary. The program is projected to consist of the equivalent of 9 full-time health care providers as the program matures, including a Nurse Clinical Manager who will precept nursing students from the UH Hilo.
“This program is extremely important for East Hawaii,” said Dr. Robert Irvine, chair of the East Hawaii Regional Board, in a written statement. “When we are successful, we expect similar programs will be extended to other neighbor island locations. The great need for primary care physicians is expected to increase for the next several decades. Training programs such as this are necessary for future medical care on the neighbor islands.”
Donations for the program are still accepted at the Hilo Medical Center Foundation at 1190 Waianuenue Avenue, Hilo, Hawaii 96720. Contact Lori Rogers, HMCF Executive Director at 935-2957 for more information.