Launched By Community First
Barry Taniguchi Health Professions Subsidy Program
Ensuring quality care for Hawaiʻi Island’s people means making sure we have the medical professionals we need.
Healthcare is a challenging business to be in, and as a result, Hawaiʻi Island has a long-standing shortage of physicians. According to the 2020 Hawaiʻi Physician’s Workforce Assessment, Hawaiʻi Island is short 287 doctors for the size of our population – that accounts for a third of the statewide shortage. Nearly every populated area of the island is experiencing a physician shortage, and there are some specialties where no specialist is available on island – colorectal surgery, endocrinology, neonatal-perinatal, and thoracic surgery.
Community First spearheaded an effort to raise $300,000 for grants to physicians and other primary care providers willing to commit to four years of service on Hawaiʻi Island. The Hilo Medical Center Foundation administers the Barry Taniguchi Community First Health Professions Subsidy Program, which has since grown to include physicians, physician assistants, and advanced practice registered nurses working with a physician sponsor to assist with the transition to practicing medicine on Hawaiʻi Island.
Hawaiʻi Island Well-Being Challenge
To know how far we’ve come, we have to know where we started.
In 2014, the Hawaiʻi Island Well-Being Challenge helped socialize the concept of well-being in the community, gave each participant an assessment of their well-being and a plan to improve it, and gave the community a baseline to measure and direct the initiatives to improve well-being. The project was implemented in partnership with HMSA by a volunteer work group of community leaders, the County of Hawaiʻi, and staff from Pono Health.
Community First brought together assets and talents already in the community to work for the common and greater good of improving well-being in our community. Through a campaign that included outreach in the community and in workplaces, banners and printed material, and media appearances in print, radio and television, over 1,100 Hawaiʻi Island residents completed the comprehensive well-being assessment.
What if chronic disease was reversible? It is, through lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle medicine is the only practice scientifically proven to prevent, stop, and even reverse heart disease by helping participants make significant lifestyle changes – including a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, positive social connections.
Ornish Lifestyle Medicine is the preeminent program of lifestyle medicine, and Community First facilitated the discussions between the Hilo Medical Center and HMSA to bring the Hui Pono Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program to Hilo. Since the program began in 2018, Hui Pono continues to be successful. Over 200 participants have graduated from Hui Pono, and about a quarter of those participants have decreased or stopped taking their blood pressure, diabetes, or cholesterol medications.