Health care nonprofit receives $100K to hire full-time doctor

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

A Hilo health care nonprofit for the Native Hawaiian community received a $100,000 donation from a community organization in order to hire a full-time physician.

Hui Malama Ola Na ‘Oiwi, which provides a number of health services from cancer support to nutritional education, was awarded $100,000 to hire Dr. Gaku Yamaguchi to its new medical team.


Yamaguchi, a board-certified family physician, was born in Japan, raised in Singapore and graduated earlier this year from the Hilo Medical Center’s Family Medicine Residency Program.

“I’m grateful for everyone’s support, and I’m excited to start working to take care of people in our community,” Yamaguchi said during a presentation Wednesday at Hui Malama’s office.

The $100,000 was a donation from Community First, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving community health care education. Charlene Iboshi, member of Community First’s board of directors, said adding a primary care physician to Hui Malama’s team will allow the nonprofit agency to increase the amount of services it offers to community members.

Yamaguchi said he was glad to be a part of a team that will provide not just primary care but also behavioral health services, education classes and more programs to help community members become more focused on their own wellness.

“You can’t just have a doctor anymore, you need a team,” Iboshi said. “You need to treat the whole person, not just fight a disease.”

The remainder of Hui Malama’s medical team includes family nurse practitioner Ikaika Moreno, dietitian and nutritionist Stacy Haumea, social worker Donna Dennerlein and family physician Ka‘ohimanu Dang Akiona, who graduated from the same residency program as Yamaguchi.

Iboshi said the Community First selection committee wanted to find a doctor who would commit to serving the area, for which Yamaguchi’s three-year residency was “a perfect storm.”

“This is a statement that the community supports good-quality service,” said Louis Hao, executive director of Hui Malama.

Lisa Rantz, executive director of the Hilo Medical Center Foundation, which donated a portion of the $100,000 gift, said Hui Malama used to provide primary medical services to the community, but stopped doing so for financial reasons. Funding Hui Malama to hire Yamaguchi will help bring much-needed primary care services to the island.

Hui Malama will introduce primary care services at an undisclosed date next year.


Hui Malama is offering free health screenings through December and January from 8:30 a.m.-noon Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at its Hilo office.

Email Michael Brestovansky at

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