Hawaii Island Family Medicine Residency Program Announces Its Third Class of Residents

Hilo, Hawaii – Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC) aims to train and retain primary care providers to relieve the severe shortage of primary care physicians and improve access to healthcare in Hawaii. HHSC is embarking on year three of its Primary Care Training Program (PCTP), an emerging model of success in Family Medicine Residency for Neighbor Island and rural communities throughout Hawaii.

On Friday, March 18, the National Resident Matching Program® matched Vincent Giani, MD, Ashley Noelani Kong, Tereza Molfino, MD, and Kapaakea Charles Puaa, MD with Hilo Medical Center’s Hawaii Island Family Medicine Residency Program (HIFMR). These new physicians are scheduled to arrive in Hilo and begin their training this summer.

“We welcome the third class of residents into our 'ohana,” said Dan Brinkman, East Hawaii Regional CEO of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. “We look forward to the opportunity to provide them with an excellent training experience.”

“We are excited to welcome our new class of residents,” said Dr. Mary K. Nordling, Hawaii Island Family Medicine Residency Program Director. “Our clinic and residency continues to grow and our residents and faculty are providing quality health care to the people of East Hawaii.  We appreciate everyone’s hard work and support for our residency program.”

This third class of residents joins the inaugural class of residents, Kaohimanu Dang Akiona, MD, Svetlana Shchedrina, MD and Seren Tokumura, MD, and the second class of residents, Will Chapple, MD, Tuy-Ngoc “Unity” Nguyen, MD, Karen Rayos, MD, and Gaku Yamaguchi, MD. These physicians have been matched to our three-year training program that integrates teaching from The University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, The University of Hawaii at Hilo’s School of Nursing, The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene, and I Ola Lahui, a behavioral health training program specialized in rural communities. For more information on the HIFMR Program, go to: www.hifmr.org

Anyone interested in becoming a patient at the Hawaii Island Family Health Center, the home clinic of the residency training program, may call (808) 932-4215 to discuss eligibility requirements.

Resident Background Information

Vincent Giani, MD

Medical School: Ross University School of Medicine, Dominica

Undergrad: UH Manoa BS

“Many of the communities in Hawaii need medical support… Hawaii is where I want to establish myself as a medical professional.”


Ashley Noelani Kong

Medical School: Boston University School of Medicine, Boston MA

Undergrad: Boston University

From: Honolulu, Hawaii

“I was born and raised in Hawaii and…want to complete my training there because knowing about community resources and systems is part of providing excellent patient care, and I would like to know how to best care for Hawaii’s unique population.”

Tereza Molfino, MD

Medical School: University Karlovy, Czech Republic

“I am well aware of the shortage of physicians on the Big Island and I am ready to do my part to change that…I live in Kona with my husband who has lived there since 1994… (we met in 2009).”


Kapaakea Charles Puaa, MD

Medical School: Eastern Virginia School of Medicine 8/2015

Undergrad: Washington State BS, University of Washington, MS

“My family has deep roots in the Hawaiian Islands of Moloka’I and Oahu…my father was one of the first graduates of Kamehameha schools…Hawaii no ka ‘oi.”


About Hilo Medical Center

As the Big Island's leading provider of inpatient and outpatient care, Hilo Medical Center (HMC) delivers a full range of services and programs. Our 20-acre campus consists of 276 beds located throughout the 137-bed acute hospital, 20-bed behavioral health unit and a 119-bed long-term care facility. We have 1,000 employees and a medical staff comprised of 250 physicians, physician assistants and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, representing 33 specialties. As a medical center, we have a network of nine outpatient clinics offering primary and specialty care. The hospital is a Level III Trauma Center which includes the second busiest emergency room in the state that provides 24-hour care to more than 44,000 patients annually. 

HMC ranks in the top 2% of hospitals in country and best in the state of Hawaii for preventing Hospital Acquired Conditions, according to CMS in 2015. The hospital is also a recipient of the 2015 Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award™ and a past recipient of the Mountain Pacific Quality Health's Quality Achievement Award. In 2015, we received the American Heart Association Gold Award for cardiac care. In 2013 and 2014, we were also recognized for quality long term care by Providigm for Quality Assurance & Performance Improvement Accredited Facility and Embracing Quality Award for the Prevention of Hospital Readmissions. Our long term care met the requirements for the American Health Care Association's Three Tier Level Quality Initiative Recognition Program.

In 2014, HMC's EMR team, HealthConnect, attained the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) Meaningful Use Stage 2. In addition, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) recognized HMC for achieving Stage 7 on the EMR Adoption ModelSM. HMC was received the HIMSS Nicholas E. Davies Award for Excellence in 2015 for demonstrating EMR utilization to improve quality of care and financial management.

We are part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, a public entity established in 1996 by the State of Hawaii to fulfill the promise to provide quality, hometown healthcare. For more information, go to: www.hilomedicalcenter.org.