According to the Hawaiʻi Physician’s Workforce Assessment there is a 20% shortage of full-time physicians in Hawaiʻi. And of the 2,806 full time physicians statewide, 711 are age 65 or older. East Hawaiʻi is projected to have the worst Primary Care Physician shortage of any region in Hawaiʻi.
In the spirit of “Own Your Health,” as a community we raised $300,000 for grants to physicians and other primary care providers willing to commit to four years of service in East Hawaiʻi. Two grants have been awarded: one to Dr. Gaku Yamaguchi of Hui Mālama Ola Nā ʻŌiwi and one to Dr. Olivia Kapono who joined the practice of Dr. Kevin Kurohara. This fund was transferred to Hilo Medical Center Foundation in late 2019. Under its chair Lisa Rantz, the Physician Subsidy Selection Committee will continue, and there will be a fund established called The Barry Taniguchi Community First Health Professions Subsidy Program. The program now also includes eligible private practice primary care physicians who hire either APRNs or physician assistants. The program will be expanded to include all rural healthcare areas throughout the state of Hawaiʻi, but there will be a specific fund for East Hawaiʻi.