Summa Health loses appeal to save accreditation for ER residency program

Accreditation won’t be restored to the emergency department residency program at Ohio-based Summa Health System after its appeal was denied by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

The decision, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, will mean the 30 residents in Summa’s emergency rooms will have to transfer to different programs by July 1. The system is also prohibited from expanding existing residency programs or starting any ones.

“I pledge to our community and to each of you as members of the Summa family that despite today’s decision, we will remain completely committed to our [other] residency programs, we will continue to aggressively recruit core emergency medicine faculty and we will work tirelessly to rebuild the Emergency Medicine Residency Program,” Summa’s interim president and CEO Cliff Deveny, MD, said in a staff memo

The initial suspension came after several weeks of turmoil in Summa’s EDs over a staffing decision. The system’s previous leader, Thomas Malone, MD, terminated the contract of Summa Emergency Associates (SEA), the emergency physicians who had providing care in five of the system’s ERs and who act as faculty for the ER residency program. They were replaced, almost overnight, with a new group, U.S. Acute Care Solutions (USACS), which according to the Beacon Journal, is run by the husband of a Summa physician who had inside knowledge of the negotiations with SEA.

Malone resigned Jan. 26 after 250 physicians backed a vote of no confidence in his leadership. Two weeks after that, ACGME suspended the emergency physician residency program.

No additional details about the appeal or why it was denied were provided by the council, but the Beacon Journal did obtain a summary of its findings. According to that report, Summa patients were being sent home from the ED at Akron City Hospital after being seen by residents, not the supervising physicians. There were also reportedly delays in care for trauma patients and possible stroke cases.  

In the staff memo, Deveny said he “remains proud” of the care provided in the system’s ERs, referencing a “great report” by Joint Commission inspectors who paid the system a visit after an unspecified patient safety complaint.

“Now, together, we will move forward with a renewed focus on improving the culture of the organization and continuing to deliver on our promise of population health,” he said.