Family health clinic settles in at HMC

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald From left, Dr. Jennifer Walker, registered nurse Tara Wilson, Assistant Hospital Administrator Lisa Shiroma and Dr. Mary Nordling at Hawaii Island Family Health Center in Hilo Medical Center.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Fourth-year UH-Hilo pharmacy student Tyler Millar talks with resident Dr. Alain Takane in an exam room Friday at Hawaii Island Family Health Center in Hilo Medical Center.

On the main floor, next to the entrance of Hilo Medical Center, the Hawaii Island Family Health Center has found its new home.

Previously on Mohouli Street, the primary care clinic has been assisting patients at its new location since April. A grand opening ceremony is from noon-1 p.m. July 18.

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“It’s been a part of our strategic plan over the years to move as many of our clinics back on campus,” said HMC spokeswoman Elena Cabatu.

According to information provided, the new clinic boasts 20 exam rooms and more teaching space, a telehealth-equipped exam room to provide access to specialized care and access to on-site imaging, a lab and pharmacy.

Medical director and family medicine physician Jennifer Walker said construction on the new locale, which used to house medical records and a hospital business office, began about 18 months ago.

“This really brings a lot of convenience to our patients now that we’re right at the front door,” she said. “We’re in the same place where they can get lab (work) and X-rays done, and if we need a consultant or we need somebody right away, we can do that right away.”

It’s easier for providers, too.

Walker said if she has a patient in the hospital, “I can just jump up there real quick and say hi or do my thing and then I can be back down here in just another minute … I think it adds a level of convenience for everyone.”

According to Walker, the clinic has 4,600 patients and is actively accepting new patients.

“We’re definitely a primary care clinic,” she said. “We’re not urgent care just for walk in off the street. Our motto is from keiki to kupuna, everyone for whether it’s wellness visits or urgent needs for illnesses or injuries. We are happy to just do school physicals and well-women exams and everything in between.”

The clinic is also home to Hilo Medical Center’s Hawaii Island Family Medicine Residency program, which currently has 14 residents.

There are four full-time family medicine faculty and physicians, pediatricians, pharmacists, nursing staff and nurse practitioners, as well as a psychologist and other providers. They also do minor surgical procedures.

“I think being on campus is great because previously we were 3 miles away, and here we are front and center,” residency director Dr. Mary Nordling said.

The location allows providers with patients in the hospital to check on their care, she said, “and the patients really love the fact that we take care of them in the hospital.”

Nurse manager Tara Wilson also touted the location’s access to care.

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“The lab and radiology (is) right around the corner, cardiology’s right … across the hallway, so it’s easy for patients to get their services done in one location,” she said. “And many times we walk patients to the lab to make sure they get their labs done and walk them back to the clinic and then they see their provider.”

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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