Scott A. Denny, MPSA, PA-C, AAHIVS
Scott Denny’s current clinical practice is located in downtown Honolulu on the island of Oahu. As the branch of the Infectious Diseases Department at Kaiser Permanente, he independently oversees the HIV clinic and manages the entire Kaiser Permanente HIV population throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Within his practice, Denny also maintains a specialty transgender clinic where they provide hormone replacement therapy, medical treatment, and unique transgender counseling. Denny also manages the HIV/HCV co-infected populations, providing them with the newest HCV treatment modalities. His practice has clinics located on the neighboring islands of Hawaii (Hilo and Kona) and Maui in Wailuku, requiring Denny to make scheduled neighbor-islands visits to provide appropriate care for those patients. Says Denny, “My patients are eternally appreciative of my willingness to accommodate them, by traveling to their island on a routine basis to perform examinations. I also have a thriving ‘PrEP-friendly’ clinic, Truvada as PrEP for the appropriate populations. I have two wonderful MAs, an HIV/HCV specialty clinical pharmacist and an RN. We function fluidly as a team to provide comprehensive patient care to our population.”
In practice, Denny provides care for a diverse population in Hawaii. Consistent with national HIV trends, he is definitely managing more senior patients living with HIV. “With this age group, I am having to address healthcare issues related to the aging process, further aggravated by the chronic and persistent inflammatory state characteristic of HIV,” says Denny. As our healthcare system continues to evolve rapidly, there are greater demands on providers to see more patients with less time and often even with less resources. Denny says his days in clinic tend to be quite hectic. “I provide comprehensive medical care for my patients, while concurrently managing their HIV and/or HCV. My staff works diligently to structure my daily workflow.”
Denny earned his Physician Assistant Master’s Degree from Loma Linda University Medical School in California. He counts himself as fortunate to have practiced in diverse medical settings including; critical care medicine, emergency medicine, psychiatric medicine, cosmetic dermatology, family medicine, and infectious disease medicine. “I believe my well-rounded background not only supplied me with an arsenal of skills and experience, but it allows me to be a patient-directed, comprehensive healthcare provider.” Denny has served as a sub-investigator for numerous clinical trials related to HIV and HCV, which keeps him on the forefront of the newest treatment modalities. Denny draws inspiration from his patients “who challenge this condition every day, by engaging in their health and living well-balanced lives. They are the role models for our community.”
When asked about obstacles, Denny says, “The obstacles I face on a daily basis are likely what any provider is frustrated with during these times; insurance barriers, affordability of medications, procedure and prescription denials.” Of course, as a chronic condition, HIV also necessitates routine and consistent patient follow-up. Says Denny, “Retention of care and medication compliance have always been issues we face in HIV clinics. In my practice, we are able to minimize these barriers by emphasizing a team approach to patient care. My MAs maintain constant engagement with our patients, my clinical pharmacist routinely follows up on any regimen changes; and as an HIV care provider, I relentlessly familiarize myself with ALL of my patients, so as to be in tune with each individual’s healthcare trajectory. As a result, our patients feel personalized. We avoid letting anyone feel like a ‘number’ because we refuse to treat them like one.”
Denny empowers his patients to take charge of their well-being. He emphasizes to them that, together, they can work to ensure long-term healthfulness. “I chose HIV medicine as my specialty because I’m fascinated by the infectious disease process and the challenge of discovering the cause of illness. I have been inspired and encouraged to witness what was once a terminal illness evolve into a manageable chronic condition. I also feel an obligation to give back to the LGBT community.” Denny recognizes that an HIV diagnosis can seriously derail someone’s life, be it physically or mentally. There is a shift in the patient’s psychic paradigm once they learn they have an incurable disease circulating through their body. “I never underestimate the mental (as well as physical) toll this disease process has one someone. I encourage my patients to live healthy, fulfilling lives, to hopefully avoid the potential psychological pitfalls of living with a chronic disease. It is my belief that genuine empathetic listening is crucial to a trusting patient-provider relationship. Feeling empathy for my patients helps me to connect with them more meaningfully. It allows me to more effectively empower them to meet their everyday challenges and to strive to live well-balanced, long lives.”
Denny is excited by the newest scientific data and techniques that involve the use of broadly neutralizing antibodies as a potential mechanism to inhibit fusion of the HIV virion. “Given that HIV is such an error-prone type of quasi-species a vaccination has historically been difficult to achieve. With the use of BNAbs, we are truly on the verge of vaccination in the next ten years. We are also now conducting HIV clinical trials that involve long-acting injectable forms of ARV medication. This will most definitely make treatment simplified and hopefully increase compliance overall. I also believe in the use of PrEP as an adjunctive measure to help lower the risk of HIV transmission is an important component to future HIV preventative measures.
Denny is a Board member and current Treasurer of the Hawaii Academy of Physician Assistants (HAPA), where he hopes to forge new initiatives that will not only increase awareness of who physician assistants are and what they uniquely offer, but to also expand the PAs’ scope of practice as competent independent providers on a national level. He works with Hawaiian local organizations to assist in providing HIV care to other under-served Pacific Islanders. These areas actually have one of the highest rates of HIV diagnoses in the United States.
Denny is a creative soul. Painting is his meditation. The ocean is his sanctuary. He stays active by playing tennis, beach paddleball, stand-up paddle boarding, and wrestling the ocean waves. He loves spending time with his partner and their favorite wheaten terrier, Murphy McGee. He considers himself “lucky to live in paradise.” Asked why he is an AAHIVM Member, he says, “I joined AAHIVM because I believe that as an HIV healthcare provider, an expert standard of care is crucial for managing a complex patient population. I also appreciate AAHIVM as a centralized organization, where both providers and patients can obtain resources concerning HIV and advocacy.”
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