Pigeons and Doctors

An unexpected encounter with a bird reminded me why we need good doctors and hospitals.

This month, our “Best Doctors” issue includes an article about the bird flu virus. Specifically, it goes into what the authorities expect you to do should the bird flu, or some other pandemic, break loose in the Islands. Useful information, I hope. I know I suddenly got extremely interested in the subject of bird flu right after a pigeon flew into me.

I mean, you see these news reports from Indonesia and Romania, where rural folks who live side by side with farm animals are stricken by bird flu and you think, Well, I spend remarkably little time in the company of live poultry, this couldn’t possibly happen to me.

And then you’re walking down King Street and flap-flap-wham, a pigeon just slams right into your head. I couldn’t help but think at that moment—bird flu! Such are the hazards of working downtown.

Much safer to be indoors, working on an issue such as this, our biannual “Best Doctors” issue, using the Hawai‘i list of 252 doctors in 37 specialties as determined by Best Doctors In America. This is one of our most sought-after issues.

Dr. Ken Arakawa, one of Hawai‘i’s Best Doctors. For more, see our feature here. photo: Olivier Koning

People sometimes ask us how we determine who the best doctors are. That’s work we trust to the Mainland research firm Best Doctors in America, and you can find a full explanation of its methodology here. The list is geared toward people in search of a specialist, so there’s no need to be anxious if you don’t find your family doctor or general practitioner here—if you’re happy with that person, there’s no need to switch doctors. But should you come down with something out of the ordinary, we think this list is a great place to start your search for a doctor.

To make the list even more useful, this year we’ve begun noting whether a given doctor is taking new patients, taking new patients on referral only or not taking new patients at all.

Of course, doctors need places to work, and we all rely on hospitals as much as we do individual physicians. That’s why we also take a look this month at the situation with St. Francis hospital. You may remember hearing that the hospital had fallen on hard times. Since St. Francis is Hawai‘i’s only major-organ transplant hospital, and a key center for dialysis treatments, it would’ve been catastrophic for the Islands had the hospital shut down. Fortunately, the St. Francis doctors themselves banded together in an attempt to buy and manage the hospital. Freelance writer Brandon Lee takes you behind the scenes to meet these doctors and find out what drove them to this remarkable intervention. Their story is just beginning, but we hope it will have a happy ending.