State of Healthcare Specialists On The Big Island


therapydia-kona-physical-therapy-clinicMany readers who come to this blog want to learn more about Kona as it pertains to moving here and making it a permanent home. I have received MANY inquiries about the health care status of the Big Island, as many of our “would-be” residents are over 55 and flying to Oahu is not an enticing venture for folks with chronic health problems. So, here is a guest blog post to give you some valuable information. If you have questions, please comment below!

Guest blog written by Brett Carey, DPT, Clinic Director of Therapydia Kona, a physical therapy and wellness clinic.

The Big Island, like all of the Hawaiian Islands, is expected to see an increase in demand for healthcare services over the next few years. To meet this demand, medical communities across the Big Island have started to strategize and create new methods to deliver care. Health care doesn’t just come down to treating patients during appointments, but communicating information about common conditions with patients throughout the Big Island. Health practitioners have been working to change the general perception of what healthcare is all about by focusing on raising awareness about preventable diseases. One key group of doctors in these medical communities are specialist doctors. Specialists bring their own treatment strategies and points of view to every medical community. Having specialists come into the Big Island will result in a stronger medical system and a better level of awareness. This is beneficial for all parties: the patients, the other doctors, and the specialists.

More Specialists, Better Care

Recently, Hawaii has been looking to pinpoint the state’s top health issues and focus on addressing them. This is where specialists come into play on the Big Island. Last year, Hawaii gained 4 more specialists. Medical groups on the Big Island are looking to grow the amount of specialists in order to focus on having an all-around better state of healthcare. Having more specialists on the Big Island allows for patients to feel comfortable with the healthcare in their community. Additionally, it gives other doctors on the Big Island more of an opportunity to expand their level of treatment by having specialists available to direct patients to. Overall, the Big Island is looking to see an upward trend of gaining more specialists and diversifying the type of medical care available to patients. Having a base of specialists on the will bridge gaps in awareness and give patients the resources they need.

BoyInFountainSMlThe Door Is Wide Open

The Big Island has three major critical access hospitals—Kona Community Hospital, North Community Hospital, and Hilo Medical Center. The Big Island also has a good amount of local private practices, community health centers, and walk-in clinics available. There is a demand with the room for specialist supply at most hospitals. Therefore, any specialists have the opportunity to integrate themselves into a variety of practice types. For example, a cardiologist or a neurologist has the chance to create a base for their speciality on the Big Island. Establishing a private practice is an entrepreneurial venture that can also greatly impact local communities. Most patients and even some physicians might be unaware of preventive health methods related to certain specialities. There’s a need to reach out to patients and providers to define exactly how a specialty such as cardiology or neurology will have positive impact on the Big Island’s overall health. Besides building their own practice, a specialist can also join a board to continue to develop local connections. Currently, there are plans to create more teaching facilities as a part of the Big Island’s medical network. In the future, there are opportunities for specialists to jump into mentoring programs with other physicians at these facilities.

Part Of The Community

Establishing a strong base of specialists on the Big Island will begin to overcome general lack of awareness about public health resources. For example, many residents on the Big Island are unaware about common chronic health conditions because of lack of access to care. With more specialists on the Big Island, it will be that much easier to step up efforts to reach patients. For specialists, the opportunity to integrate themselves into the medical community comes along with being a part of the Big Island’s small town culture. It’s not only unique as a part of the Hawaiian Islands, but unique with the Islands as well. For specialties on the Big Island, every single provider matters. Putting down roots in the medical community will be met with incredible gratitude.


Spread the word if you love what you heard! #365kona so we can say Thanks!

Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at and and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

Leave a Question or Comment About this Topic

  • Dr. Chang says:

    Urgent Care of Kona is one of the longest running Urgent Care medical facilities on the Big Island, Hawaii as such we have a large recurring patient base. Our service does not require appointments as we provide walk-in medical care with extended hours and ample parking. Urgent Care of Kona accepts major insurance coverage as well. We have lots of 5 Star patient reviews that support our friendly physicians and support staff that provide the best patient services year in and year out.. 1.808.327.4357

  • JIm McMillan says:

    The Big Island is in need of a full time endocrinologist. With many retirees moving in that are struggling with Type 2 diabetes, this type of specialist becomes increasingly important in helping these patients manage their disease.

    And Type 2 diabetes is becoming endemic across much of the “developed” world, with sugar consumption far too high and obesity rates increasing.

  • Radboy says:

    We love Hawaii, but are leaving due to poor healthcare. Hard to enjoy anything if your dead, right. I experienced a complete failure of the medical system in Hawaii. From first contact / diagnosis with my PCP doctor (who runs 3 island clinics), to diagnostic testing, to patient care and follow up.

    There was a misdiagnosis by my PCP, a questionable MRI, an aborted unnecessary surgery then “less than zero” follow up care. Un-returned phone calls made directly to the PCP doctor. Evasive or incompetence office staff who made it very difficult to get an appointment. Finally after ten days when things were much worse, I got an appointment (found if I turn off caller ID they answer) and a $100 blood test helped find the real issue.
    The doctor drew in all his staff to show them his great diagnosis of my condition. He stated ” I don’t think we need an MRI or other diagnostic testing we can just schedule surgery unless the surgeon requires it” He was of course completely wrong along with the MRI folks and the orthopedic surgeon. Two surgery prep nurses and 2 anesthesia techs also missed textbook symptoms that a doctor later said a 2nd year med student would know. This wasn’t some rare disease I picked up in the jungles of Belize, it was an issue you see TV commercials for almost every day. They had me on a the gurney with an IV ready for surgery when I told the doctor I didn’t think it was needed. After retesting, the surgeon cancelled, the IV came out, and I was told I could leave.

    Another doctor offered to testify if I wanted to sue, but added I would get more money if I had died. To successfully sue one has to prove care was less than the “local” standard. I was told the “local” standard is so low, proving malpractice is almost impossible.

    Almost everyone I talk to have a similar story about themselves, a friend, or a family member. They seem to accept that health care is poor. Maybe living is paradise is worth it to them. I refuse to join them. Life is to precious and I will look for paradise elsewhere. I don’t know if health care will be better somewhere else, but I doubt it will be worse.

    • I have friends who have left the island due to health care issues, as well. Your story sounds like a nightmare. Personally, I managed to use a Hawaiian healer for some of my illnesses or a naturopath.
      Had a friend who almost died at the hands of incompetency at the local hospital and a OB/Gyn told me to tell her to take the longer ambulance ride to Kohala, but she couldn’t make it.
      It’s something people should be aware of.

  • Lexanne Gomes says:

    feels like I’m always getting the runaround with doctors! It took 5 Dr.’s over 2 years to get a cancer diagnosis resulting in amputation of my toe. I’m now having another major issue requiring a colonoscopy .. After jumping through all the hoops for 3 months? I’m told the Dr. Is booked for 3 months for this procedure! I am a 62 year old female and do not understand this lack of care.