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Friday celebrated as Dr. Geri Young Day

LIHU‘E — Jen Chahanovich, the president and CEO of Wilcox Medical Center, and CEO of Kaua‘i Medical Clinic, described Dr. Geri Young as “small, mighty, and powerful” on Friday when the Wilcox Medical Center opened up the conference rooms for the countless number of people that wanted to wish Dr. Young a happy retirement.

Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami was represented by acting Mayor Reiko Matsuyama. Reps. Nadine Nakamura and Luke Evslin, and their families, also attended.

“I guess I am the ‘acting mayor’ when both the mayor and managing director are out of town,” Matsuyama said. “Mayor Kawakami is in Washington D.C., with Hawai‘i Senate President Ron Kouchi representing at Hawai‘i on the Hill.”

With that explanation, Matsuyama announced June 9 as Dr. Geri Young Day to celebrate and appreciate the doctor’s commitment of her life to serving the keiki of Kaua‘i and practicing pediatrics on the island for more than 40 years.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Young for quite some time now, as she has been my daughter Hailee’s pediatrician. We’ve had the privilege of seeing firsthand her dedication, hard work, and love for the children of Kaua‘i,” said Kawakami in a prepared message to Hawai‘i Pacific Health, and the Wilcox Health.

“Her unwavering commitment was especially evident during the pandemic where she worked tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of her patients. As Dr. Young embarks on her well-deserved retirement, we wish her all the best and thank her for her more than 40 years of service to our community.”

Rep. Nakamura, whose two children, the youngest just graduating from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, were patients of Dr. Young. She presented a congratulatory certificate from the 32nd Legislature that outlined her history of service in pediatrics that started in 1981 and continued for more than 40 years.

Young graduated from St. Andrews Priory School for Girls on O‘ahu in 1970, and received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Zoology from Pomona College in California. She attended the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa John A. Burns Schools of Medicine starting in 1974 and graduated in 1978.

After completing a pediatric internship with the LAC-USC School of Medicine and pediatric residency program with the University of Hawai‘i School of Medicine, Dr. Young joined the Kaua‘i Medical Group in 1981.

Hawai‘i Pacific Health said Young would serve as chair of the Department of Pediatric from 1990-96, the year Kaua‘i Medical Group became the Kaua‘i Medical Clinic after merging with Wilcox Hospital to form Wilcox Health.

“When she first moved to Kaua‘i, she was the only female physician in a group of 25 physicians,” HPH said. “She ends her career now supervising a group of 120 providers.”

Dr. Les Chun, the CEO of Hawai‘i Pacific Health Medical Group, said he knows the secret of Dr. Young’s success.

“Dr. Young is one of the best physician leaders I have ever worked with,” Chun said. “Though she is soft-spoken, she has the utmost respect of all her colleagues, having led them for more than four decades through all kinds of challenges. She’s the type of leader that truly connects with people, cares deeply about their well being, and is a role model for other physicians. I’ve found her secret — she cares!”

Chahanovich said Dr. Young broke their promise.

“We were supposed to retire, together. But I guess she wanted to travel sooner than I did. In addition to being an outstanding leader at Wilcox Health, Dr. Young is a respected and beloved member of their Kaua‘i community,” Chahanovich said.

“As a renowned pediatrician, she’s positively impacted the lives of countless individuals and led the next generation of physicians, some of whom are former patients and/or students of hers. We thank Dr. Young for her dedication and service over the last 42 years that includes community health care and critical medical services following hurricanes Ewa and Iniki.”

HPH said Dr. Young is a member of the Kaua‘i Rural Health Association, serves on the Quality Improvement Advisory Committee of AlohaCare, serves on the board of Hale ‘Opio, and is on the board of directors for Pu‘ulu Lapa‘au that assists health care providers. In 2018, Dr. Young was appointed to serve on the Hawai‘i State Medical Board.

“Our clinicians are very interested in teaching and encouraging our Kaua‘i ‘learners’ to consider staying here on Kaua‘i for their careers in health care. As a pediatrician, I have been grateful to have been able to hire several of my former patients to work for HPHMG as providers,” said Young in a statement from HPH.

“I am hopeful that even more of our young medical professionals will come back to Kaua‘i to work for their practice careers. This is one of my major goals in the last part of my professional career — to help in any way I can to improve recruitment and retention of medical professionals on the Neighbor Islands here in the state of Hawai‘i.”

With the mountain of lei growing and the buzz of many memories flavored by the “Dr. Geri Young” water and cookies, will Dr. Young return as a judge for the annual Halloween Children’s Walk? According to Hawai‘i Pacific Health, Dr. Young’s official retirement date is July 3.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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