Sunday, November 23, 2014

By COLIN M. STEWART

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Hilo Medical Center welcomed two new physicians into the fold this month, and administrators hope that the Big Island can keep the recruitment ball rolling to address Hawaii's severe doctor shortage.

General surgeon Dr. Victor Bochkarev and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jay Boughanem both began practicing medicine in Hilo on Sept. 1. Their joining of the East Hawaii medical community came after two exhaustive searches, which each took more than two years, said Assistant Hospital Administrator Boyd Murayama.

"We're excited," he said. "These are two providers we felt were a good fit for the community, and we hope they will be able to stay in the community for some time."

Murayama said that while attracting doctors to Hawaii is a primary concern, it is also important to find the right doctors. By finding the right fit, the hope is the new physicians will stay for many years to come and help to attract more health care providers.

In an interview Tuesday, Bochkarev said he was looking forward to getting to know and serve the Hilo community.

A native of Russia, Bochkarev comes to East Hawaii after completing his general surgery residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he served as chief resident and completed a fellowship in minimally invasive surgery. He received his medical degree from the Russian State Medical University in Moscow and completed a fellowship at the Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Moscow Medical Academy.

Bochkarev's sub-specialties include laparoscopic and thoracic surgery, and he joins HMC's two-man team of Dr. Daniel Hudak and Dr. Joshua Pierce of Hilo Surgical Associates. The group also receives help in covering its heavy workload from private surgeon Dr. Gerald Lau.

The 44-year-old Bochkarev is the married father of a 2-year-old boy and a 3-month-old girl.

Bochkarev is a nationally ranked chess player and enjoys swimming and martial arts. He said that when he accepted the position at Hilo Medical Center, he was thrilled to learn that he'd be setting up shop in BJ Penn's hometown.

"I knew of BJ, but I didn't know he was from Hilo," he said. "It's cool. My wife saw him the other day."

Living near the mixed martial arts star may be a perk, but the decision to begin a practice here centered mainly on the amount of support Bochkarev saw coming from the hospital, he said.

"I had a good opportunity coming here," he said. "The hospital administration is doing a good job of helping us get settled, and providing materials, information. .... There are already good surgeons here, and there is good communicating between the sub-specialties (on the island)."

Bochkarev said Hawaii provides a good opportunity to build up a strong referral base, and he looks forward to getting out and meeting his health care colleagues across the island. He added that he hopes to help HMC pursue the goal providing better on-island care for the community, preventing the need for patients to travel to Oahu for surgeries and other care.

Meanwhile, orthopedic surgeon Jay Boughanem has been caring for patients since early September at Hilo Bone & Joint, an affiliate of Hilo Medical Center, located at 82 Puuhonu Place, while renovations are being completed at the clinic's future location at 73 Puuhonu Place. Specializing in arthroscopic shoulder surgery, arthroplasty, arthroscopic knee surgery, periarticular ostotomies, joint preservation procedures and arthroscopic hip surgery, the 35-year-old fills a position that is sorely needed on the Big Island.

Boughanem received his doctorate and completed orthopedic residency at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. He also completed his orthopedic surgery fellowship in shoulder and sports medicine at Harvard University in Boston.

Boughanem said Tuesday that throughout his residency, he envisioned coming to Hawaii to set up his practice. Dr. Robert Irvine, chairman of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. East Hawaii Regional Board, served as a source of inspiration, he said.

"Dr. Irvine has been serving this community for 30 years, and he's really served as a good role model," Boughanem said. "I talked a lot with him when I thought about coming here. He's been very helpful."

Boughanem said that coming to an underserved population is an exciting experience, and he looks forward to building bridges with other health professionals and patients on the Big Isle. As for whether he had any reservations about being in a community where his services would be in very high demand, Boughanem said he didn't think the pressure would be a problem.

"I did my residency at the Cook County Hospital E.R.," he said. "It's one of the busiest trauma centers in the country. I was pretty busy there, so I'm not worried."

Boughanem, who is single, enjoys swimming, cycling, soccer and running in his spare time. He recently participated in a 5K race.

Hilo Surgical Associates and Dr. Victor Bochkarev may be reached at 134 Puuhonu Way, Apt. B, in Hilo, or by calling 961-0655.

Contact Jay Boughanem at Hilo Bone & Joint's temporary offices at 82 Puuhonu Place, Suite 206, in Hilo, or by calling 961-9505.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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