From Hawaii to Bermuda: KEMH’s new full-time oncologist is familiar with island settings – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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From Hawaii to Bermuda: KEMH’s new full-time oncologist is familiar with island settings

Although he’s from New York, the new full-time oncologist at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital laughs that he’s become somewhat of an Island specialist.

That’s because he spent eight years as a hematologist/oncologist in Maui, first at Hawaii Kaiser Permanente and for a short period as a locum at the Pacific Cancer Institute.

Dr Paul Coty originally moved to Hawaii in 2003 to establish a full-time oncology department on the island of Maui for Hawaii Kaiser Permanente.

Returning to New York to attend to family matters, he said he was approached by a recruitment firm and asked if he was interested in working in Bermuda. He said the position and location appealed to him. Admitting that working on an island can present unique challenges, his Maui experience worked in his favour in securing the KEMH position.

“I was born and raised in New York and it took a lot of adjustment when I went to Maui,” he said. “A lot of things were not readily available, people were travelling off-island for care. I’ve learned that way of practicing medicine where I don’t have all the most modern tools at my fingertips, where I am working with teams of doctors not necessarily next door to me. That whole process is very familiar to me,” he said.

In this role at Kaiser Permanente he ran the outpatient clinic, the infusion centre and oversaw care at the sole hospital on Maui, the Maui Memorial Medical Centre.

In addition, he facilitated collaboration with the Hawaii Kaiser surgical, medical sub-speciality, radiology and pathology departments and established a standard of care based on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines.

He also assisted primary care physicians with patient diagnostic evaluations, family concerns and end of life issues.

Dr Coty said he became interested in caring for cancer patients quite early in his medical studies. In the year between acceptance at SUNY Stony Book School of Medicine in New York and attendance there, Dr Coty worked as an orderly in a New York hospital.

“I was reading a lot of books on alternative therapies and what I found was a lot of the therapies didn’t work well. The stories were usually cancer patients telling their own stories,” he said.

And he said his interest continued in medical school. “I found when I was rotating through the hospital in different areas of medicine when I came across cancer patients I was interested in their story and their treatments. My interest came early on and then it just grew on me and I realised what I enjoyed the most was being around cancer patients.”

And being around cancer patients is quite different from the career Dr Coty had figured for himself when he first left college.

Following in the footsteps of his parents, Dr Paul Coty trained and took a job as a teacher before he ever considered a career in medicine.

“My parents were teachers and they steered me toward teaching,” he said. “I was a high school math and science teacher. I taught a year in Hawaii and fell in love with the place,” he added.

It was in Hawaii that Dr Coty realised teaching was not his passion and that he wanted to become a medical doctor.

He started on staff at KEMH on January 9. As the full-time locum oncologist he heads the hospital’s cancer services and its Cancer Care team. The Cancer Care Team comprises part-time oncologist Dr Tutu Aung-Hillman; oncology nurses, Karen Scott and Jennifer Gallo; oncology clinical supervisor, Michelle Sampson and administrative assistant, Evelyn Minors.

Dr Coty’s responsibilities at KEMH include consulting with cancer patients in Bermuda and overseeing their care, working with healthcare partners here and overseas, and developing cancer services on-Island. He reports to the Chief of Medicine, Dr Keith Chiappa.

In a statement Dr Chiappa welcomed Dr Coty: “As cancer patients and their families in Bermuda are aware, over the last few years we have been working hard to appoint a full time, high quality oncologist.

“The global shortage of specialists in this area has made it especially challenging. While we are very grateful for the assistance from our partner hospitals in maintaining cancer services in Bermuda during this recruitment period, we know that the service requires a full time oncologist.

“It gives us great pleasure to appoint someone with Dr Coty’s expertise, who is also used to the challenges of delivering a high quality specialist service in an island setting.”

Finally full-time: Oncologist Dr Paul Coty is the new full-time cancer specialist at the hospital. Pictured he confers with oncology nurses Jennifer Simons and Karen Scott about a patient.

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Published February 14, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 14, 2012 at 6:25 am)

From Hawaii to Bermuda: KEMH’s new full-time oncologist is familiar with island settings

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