Medicine Is A Family Business

By Dr. Michael Bennett

Wednesday - November 12, 2008
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By Dr. Michael Bennett
President Retina Institute of Hawaii

Every patient should be treated as family, and at the Retina Institute of Hawaii this is our standard. Long gone are the days of doctors strictly telling patients what to do. At our practice, we explain treatment plans in easy-to-understand terms and ensure patients are comfortable and knowledgeable both about their condition and treatment options. We also instill a sense of personal responsibility in our patients’ care and the importance of teamwork in yielding the best possible outcome.

I started this practice in 2001, with offices in Aina Haina and Wahiawa, with the idea that I wanted to make a substantial contribution to this community. Five years later, with multiple offices on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island, a dedicated and highly professional staff, and a nonprofit entity that performs free vision screenings for all, I am fortunate to be doing just that.


Growing up, my father passed down the tradition of living life with determination, leading by example, and caring for your family. He logged countless hours pursuing academics and accrued the titles of CPA, JD and Ph.D., but the letters he was most proud of were Jr. As I grow older, and it seems exponential rather than linear at this point, I find that I suffer from that same pathologic quest for knowledge that plagued my father, and the drive to use it to better serve my patients. Currently, I have six different independent research and five national grants, all targeted and designed to help our families here in Hawaii.

Dr. Michael Bennett with staff and their families at the ‘Step Out of Diabetes Walk’ at Kapiolani Park

Financially, Hawaii is a unique place; the general excise tax linked to mandatory medicines and medical care puts an unrealistic burden on our population. Even more mind-boggling is we accept these crazy notions because we live in Hawaii and we are told, “That is the way we do it here.” I spend seemingly countless hours writing grants in the hopes of getting free treatments and free medicines for our underserved populations. I am happy I was taught to think outside the box and to take a critical look at each situation and seek out the best solution. But perhaps the single element that has driven the business and the way I practice medicine is I was taught, and truly believe, regardless of what you do, if you care, you can always do it a little better.

As a business, I believe it essential to be your own greatest critic because when you think you are the best, it is time to quit. My hope is patients and their families come to our office because they have heard about what we have done from someone else and know we will do the same for them. My hope is they will truly feel they have become a part of our family.

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