DeTar hires director for Texas A&M residency program in Victoria

Elena Watts By Elena Watts

May 8, 2014 at 12:08 a.m.
Updated May 9, 2014 at 12:09 a.m.

Dr. Sidney C. Ontai is the first program director for the DeTar Healthcare System's physician residency program.

He has 25 years of combined experience in academia and private practice.

Ontai is responsible for building the Texas A&M University Health Science Center's Family Medicine Residency program for the first six residents by July 2016.

"The current medical system needs fixing," Ontai said. "It's too expensive, with an overemphasis on pills and surgeries and an underemphasis on lifestyle modification."

The residency program, which was announced in January, will add six residents each year for three years to reach 18 family medicine residents-in-training.

The three-year program, which will include disease-prevention education, will be fully operational by 2018.

"In 11 years of education - undergraduate through my residency - 20 of 22,000 hours were spent on prevention," Ontai said. "We'll have more in our program if I have anything to say about it."

In the meantime, Ontai must recruit patients for his family medicine practice as well as physician teachers and the program's first six residents. The program will bring more than 20 new jobs to the area.

Curriculum specialists from Texas A&M and consultants from a national accreditation body, among others, will help Ontai reach his objectives.

"The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requires minimum years of experience in teaching," said William Blanchard, CEO of DeTar Healthcare System. "It is difficult to find board-certified family physicians with the required residency program experience."

Ontai brings experience from three residency programs - University of California-Irvine, University of California-Los Angeles and Texas Tech University.

Ontai specializes in telemedicine research, which Blanchard touts as an additional benefit for Victoria. Patients in rural communities such as Turkey, Earth and Hart will continue to see Ontai in Victoria via telecommunication.

"He also brings small-town family practice experience," Blanchard said. "We want to find residents here, train them here and place them in smaller towns around Texas - particularly in our region."

Ontai is a second-generation physician from Hawaii. He graduated from Harvard University with his bachelor's degree. He earned his medical degree from the University of Hawaii and later his master's in business administration from the University of California-Los Angeles.

Ontai has been married to Stacey Ontai for 26 years. They have three children - two in college and one who plans to attend St. Joseph High School next year.



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