Caring for Uncle Bobby

In 1964, the Hawaii County Police Department’s Uncle Bobby Gomes was “temporarily” transferred from Kona to Pahala. “The community just accepted and loved us,” says Bobby.

“We raised our three kids here and they went to school here too,” says Phoebe with love and pride of living in Pahala for over 50 years. “We live right up the street.”

Uncle Bobby is a longtime patient of the Ka`u Rural Health Clinic under the watchful eye of nurse practitioner Susan Field. “Suz is tops!” said Bobby. “Megan (Lewis), the other nurse practitioner, and Dr. (Sarah) Howard are also very good. If Suz isn’t in and I need to see someone, they squeeze me in.”

“We make it a point to keep a close eye on our patients, like Bobby, who need a little extra attention,” says Susan. “It’s why our clinic is set up to have available walk-in appointments. We want to see our patients who are going through difficult treatment when they need us.”

Uncle Bobby has been fighting cancer over the years. First it was prostate and it was good for many years.

“Then three years ago, I found out I had bone cancer and it metathesized to my liver and lungs,” says Bobby.

“Suz referred me to Dr. Lim at Hawaii Pacific Oncology Center for treatment. First Dr. Lim sent me to Queens on Oahu for all sorts of treatment and then I wanted to try North Hawaii, they’re run by Queens.

“Before going there, I told Dr. Lim that if the treatment doesn’t work there, I want to be able to come back. Long story short, I’m back in Hilo for my chemotherapy and it seems to be working on the cancer in my bones.”   

The Ka`u Rural Health Clinic continues to watch Uncle Bobby closely. Recently, he came in with difficulty breathing.

Dr. Howard examined him, suspected there was water in his lung and sent him to Hilo for an ultrasound. “I took him to Hilo, they drained the water from his lungs and we were back home that afternoon,” says Phoebe.

Earlier in February, Ka`u Rural Health Clinic installed an electronic medical records system.

In March, Bobby and Phoebe travelled to Hilo for appointments at the cancer center and numerous tests. Recently, a CT scan of Bobby’s abdomen at Hilo Medical Center’s Imaging Department had been ordered.

“We used to wait to have Imaging results faxed back to us,” recalls Susan.

“Now, because of the electronic medical records, I am able to see the results in the same day or early the next morning. For patients like Bobby, I can keep   an eye on the results of his tests and let him know as soon as possible.”

“To me, the feeling of ohana is how I would summarize the people here – one big happy   family,” says Uncle Bobby.