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History of the Honolulu County Medical Society

In 1856, ten physicians in Honolulu petitioned for, and received from King Kamehameha IV, a petition for charter of incorporation of a “society in Honolulu for the encouragement and cultivation of medical science…devoted to the collection and diffusion of medical knowledge, the advancement of the interests and usefulness of the medical profession and cultivation of harmony and good feelings among its members…” The Hawaiian Medical Society was chartered on July 19, 1856, and held its first meeting on August 13th.

In 1890, another group of Honolulu doctors met to revise the organization. In 1892 they did, and in 1895 they named it the Medical Association of Hawaii. In 1904 it was called the Hawaiian Territorial Medical Society.

During World War I, the society voted to drop all “alien members from membership,” despite having no ‘alien’ members.

In 1916, the Hawaiian Territorial Medical Society moved from a building on the grounds of the Iolani Palace to Queen’s Hospital.

In 1920, members were assessed to finance book and journal purchases for a medical library.

On April 27, 1925, at a meeting at the New Palama Settlement, the Hawaiian Territorial Medical Society was reorganized into two organizations, the Honolulu County Medical Society and the Hawaiian Territorial Medical Association. The minutes of that meeting are quite fascinating and enlightening. (The minutes of this meeting are contained in Appendix IV.) All of the problems seen today including duplication of effort, and of the Honolulu physicians dominating a territory-wide organization were discussed at that time. The fear of neighbor island doctors feeling left out if county organizations were not formed was also talked about. Despite that discussion, the Honolulu doctors dominated the meeting(s), and controlled the elections of officers of the two organizations.

The first business meeting of the Honolulu County Medical Society was held on April 27, 1925, and the first regular meeting was held at Queen’s Hospital on September 4, 1925.

In 1938, the Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) was formed.

In 1940, the Hawaiian Medical Society legally changed its name to match what it had been using to the Hawaii Territorial Medical Association.

In 1941, the Hawaii Medical Journal was founded.

The years from 1970 to 1980 help us to understand how HCMS came to be in its current state. What follows are notes taken from reports delivered by the Presidents of HCMS at the Annual meeting of HMA.

1970: The staffs of the Honolulu County Medical Society and the Hawaii Medical Association are merged, and the organizations agree to share expenses on a 50 — 50 basis.

1972: HCMS had reorganized its committees transferring some to the state level.

HCMS and HMA staff time utilization studies are to be used to change the shared contract to 60% HMA and 40% county.

Administrative staff and officers held a retreat to develop a long-term plan.

1975: HCMS officers will be elected by mailed ballots.

1976: 8/76: HCMS and HMA move into their offices in the new building at 320 Ward Avenue.

9/76: HCMS/ HMA contract is renegotiated to have HCMS pay HMA “a percent of the annual cost of [secretarial help, space rental and various other necessary housekeeping items] and this percentage will be negotiated from the quarterly time studies done by the staff each year.”

10/76: The HCMS executive secretary retires. Thus, after due deliberation and after HMA’s selection of him for [their] Executive Director, Mr. Jon Won…was selected for the HCMS post.”

1977: An Ad Hoc Committee on Planning identified priorities and goals for the Society attendance at membership meetings [which] continued to be a problem.

1978: Spouses are invited to meetings held at dinnertime … attendance goes up.

A poll of non-members was taken to determine why they have either dropped out or never joined.

A Recruitment Committee is formed. “Recruitment should be done on a one-to-one basis.

2000: HCMS and HMA separate business services and hire independent executive directors.

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