‘Save Our Doctors' formed to address state doctor shortage

By Leland Kim

KAILUA, Oahu (KHNL) -  The doctor shortage in Hawaii continues to worsen, on the neighbor islands and even on Oahu.  A newly formed organization called “Save Our Doctors” is now working to reverse this dangerous trend.

Kathy Campbell is a mother, and a grandmother, who raised her family in Kailua, Oahu.  Her kids have grown and moved away, and so have her doctors.  During a time in her life when she needs medical care, she’s lost two doctors, and is afraid more will leave Hawaii unless something is done about it.

The Hawaii Medical Association reports close to 70 percent of windward Oahu patients cannot get adequate medical care.

“In the last two to three years, we’ve lost about 12 doctors on the windward side,” said Campbell, a 66-year-old Kailua resident. “We’ve lost two to three orthopaedic surgeons. We’ve lost an internist. We’ve lost a family practice doctor. We’ve lost an anesthesiologist.”

Hawaii’s low reimbursement rates plus high malpractice insurance equal an unattractive place for doctors to practice medicine.

“It’s really a crisis situation,” said Campbell.  “It’s really a crisis now. There’s a crisis on the neighbor islands but it’s also becoming a crisis on windward Oahu.”

That’s why Campbell and others started an organization called “Save Our Doctors.”

“It’s devastating,” said Campbell. “I’ve talked to many senior citizens who had the same internist I did and they can’t find another doctor.  Doctors aren’t taking new patients. They’re not taking Medicare patients.”

Hawaii has one of the fastest growing senior populations in the country, but not enough doctors to take care of them.  A bill that attempted to do something about this was shot down by Hawaii lawmakers this year.

“I think attorneys ought to realize that they’re people too,” said Campbell. “They have children and families. Their families need doctors.  They need doctors. We’re all people. This is not a partisan issue.”

An issue that will impact the people of Hawaii one way or another.

Campbell and others at “Save Our Doctors” plan to lobby for tort reform in the upcoming session.  They also have a list of candidates they’re supporting in the upcoming election.

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