The emergency medicine residency program at Summa Health will lose its accreditation, and the system has been put on probation by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
The program's accreditation withdrawal is effective July 1, according to a Feb. 8 internal staff memo from Valerie Gibson, Summa Health's chief operating officer. The probation status for the institution means Summa can't start new residency programs or increase the size of existing programs, and it must notify current residents and applicants it is on probation.
"Needless to say, we are extremely disappointed by the decision, we respectfully disagree with the decision and we will appeal the decision within the next 30 days as allowed by ACGME," the memo stated. "Our program will remain in continued accreditation during the appeal process."
ACGME representatives visited Summa in late January, as expected, during the normal course of business, according to the memo.
Gibson stressed that this affects neither the ACGME accreditation of other residency programs, nor Summa's contract with U.S. Acute Care Solutions, the physician group that has been staffing its EDs since the start of this year. Negotiations with SEA — the group that had for decades staffed Summa's EDs — broke down in the final days of 2016, prompting a new contract with USACS and setting off vocal backlash and turmoil that ultimately culminated in the resignation of CEO Dr. Thomas Malone.
The memo also reiterated, as have others during the fallout, that the contract with USACS is final and will not change.
"The decision to transition to a new emergency medicine services provider was absolutely the right decision to make for our community, but I am sorry for the impact it has had on the organization," the memo stated.
In the memo, Gibson wrote that several factors led to the transition of ED doctors, "and, ultimately, today's decision by ACGME."
She noted that "without question," negotiations should have started sooner, which both Summa and SEA have already indicated.
Gibson then went on to address those negotiation processes, which Summa officials haven't commented on in recently available memos.
"At the same time, I cannot emphasize enough my profound disappointment with the leadership of SEA for its purposeful bad faith negotiations and its repeated attempts to harm our Emergency Medicine Residency Program," the memo stated. "Despite numerous offers by Summa to negotiate beyond December 31 to allow for a sound transition in the best interests of the residency program, they simply walked away."
In the past, SEA has strongly denied Summa's version of what happened in negotiations, citing a lack of trust and a belief that Summa officials weren't "putting the effort forward to get a contract finalized."
Gibson wrote that SEA's actions harmed Summa and the first and second year residents who now must attempt to find a new program July 1. In the memo, Gibson said that Summa will do "everything possible" to help those residents.
"Summa emergency medicine residency loses accreditation, health system put on probation" originally appeared in Crain's Cleveland Business.