Funding Released for Primary Care Training Program in Hilo

HONOLULU — Acting Governor Shan Tsutsui today announced the release of $1.8M in general funds to the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC) for the Primary Care Training Program at the Hilo Medical Center.  The funds will go towards faculty, resident costs, clinic space and other operating expenses.  

“These funds support a residency program which will recruit, train and retain primary care physicians for the Big Island, helping to keep our local talent at home,” said Acting Governor Tsutsui. The funding is aimed at addressing the shortage of primary care providers in the State.”   

According to a report by the “Hawai’i Physician Workforce Assessment Project” presented at the 2013 Legislative Session, Hawaii Island saw a 34 percent physician shortage in 2012 with 341 physicians in supply compared to 514 physicians in demand or needed to adequately care for the island’s population. Statewide, the shortage was 18 percent or 2,955 physicians in supply compared to 3,590 physicians in demand. Among other findings, the report concluded the physician shortages were especially acute in the area of primary care.  

“I am excited that this critical appropriation has been authorized, which we have fought for as a Big Island community for years. This program is a direct solution for our neighbor island physician shortage and will improve many peoples’ lives in our community,” said Senator Josh Green, District 3 (Kona, Kau).    

"State funding for the Hilo Medical Residency program is critical for the long term viability of our primary health care system on Hawaii Island.  The collaboration of all parties involved in supporting this program is essential to provide critical care for our residents, and encourage doctors and health care providers to stay and build their careers here on the Big Island and throughout Hawaii," said State House of Representative Mark Nakashima, District 1 (Hamakua, North Hilo, and South Hilo).  

“We truly appreciate the release of the $1.8 million appropriation for the HHSC Primary Care Training Program,” said Howard N. Ainsley, HHSC East Hawaii Region Chief Executive Officer. “This level of funding reflects an understanding and commitment by our Governor, legislators, local businesses, and community to solving the primary care physician shortage in Hawaii.”    

Ainsley added, “In addition to being able to continue operations, improve patient volumes, and provide services to those in need of care, this essential subsidy will see us through the accreditation process this fall, the matriculation of residents to our training program in the spring, and welcoming our first class of residents in the summer.”   

The program will use an interdisciplinary team approach to partner primary care physicians with advanced nurse practitioners, clinical pharmacists and behavior specialist.   The training will be conducted at the Hawaii Island Family Center.  Four new residents a year will be trained for three years.  The program will begin July 2014.   

# # #      

Media Contact:
Caroline Julian-Freitas
Director of Communications
(808) 586-0292