When they came on board, Trios Health was still called KGH.
The health system’s flagship facility — the four-level, 168,000-square-foot Trios Southridge Hospital — was a year away from opening.
And the towering Trios Care Center at Southridge was a pile of dirt.
A lot has changed in three years.
Some of the biggest changes have been in the young physicians themselves.
Drs. Maria Persianinova, Minh-Triet Vo and Shahla Walizada came to Kennewick in July 2013 as Trios Health’s — and the Tri-Cities’ — first-ever medical residents.
Fresh out of medical school, they were nervous. But during their time at Trios, they gained confidence, became touchstones for newer residents and earned respect from patients and colleagues.
“These are amazing young physicians,” said Dr. Heather Phipps, who oversees Trios’ residency programs. “They’ve been tremendous pioneers for us.”
As of last week, they’re officially done. At a special sendoff ceremony, dozens of Trios staff members gathered to wish them well.
“We are so excited for you and we are all so proud of you,” Phipps said, as the crowd cheered.
Persianinova, Vo and Walizada seemed touched and delighted. They posed for photos, shook hands, gave hugs.
The three years — they’ve gone by fast, Walizada said, describing it as “like the blink of an eye.”
A residency is an intensive, hands-on training period that comes after medical school — one doctors must complete to become licensed and board certified.
Trios’ family medicine and internal medicine residency programs were the first in the Tri-Cities.
As the three pioneering residents graduate, a new class of six first-year residents is set to start. With those young physicians on board, Trios will have 18 residents total — six in each of the three years.
Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland also now has its own family medicine residency program. The first six residents began last year, and a new crop of six starts this month.
Persianinova, Vo and Walizada said their time at Trios was meaningful, professionally and personally.
They put their book knowledge into practice. They helped shape the residency programs for generations to come. And they made connections with patients.
For them, that was something special.
Sometimes, they saved a life. Made a big change, a big difference.
Other times, “our joy is in the small victories we get,” Vo said. “Even if we get the blood pressure down by 10 points, the sugar down by 10 or more points. Little victories along the way.”
All three young doctors will return home to continue their careers.
They’ve been tremendous pioneers for us.
Dr. Heather Phipps, who oversees Trios’ residency programs
Persianinova, who was an internal medicine resident, will work as a hospitalist in northern California, taking care of admitted patients.
Walizada and Vo were family medicine residents and will join practices in the Northwest — Walizada in Boise and Vo in the Tacoma area.
Leaving each other will be hard, they said. In their three years together, they’ve become like family.
“I moved a lot, from medical school and internship and here. You feel like you’re used to it — moving and saying goodbye to people. But you can’t get used to it,” Persianinova said.
And Trios “has affected me the most,” she said.
All three said they’re excited about taking the next step in their careers.
They admit it’s nerve-racking — just like it was three years ago when they first came to the Kennewick hospital.
Phipps, who oversees the residency program, isn’t worried. The three pioneer residents are ready.
“They’ve had fantastic preparation,” she said. “And they’re wonderful physicians.”