Porterville needs a hospital residency program
Family HealthCare Network is one of 11 community health centers in the United States that serves as a campus for medical students enrolled at the A.T. Still University Medical School based in Mesa, Ariz. Our intent in participating in this program is to create a pipeline for finding local students who want to practice medicine and stay in the area during their medical school experience. This increases the probability that they will establish themselves in the local area and practice here.
Our students, who graduate after spending the last three years of their four years of medical school in the Porterville/Visalia area, must move out of the area to participate in required post graduate residency programs because none exist here. Completion of a residency program is now mandatory for participating in today’s medical marketplace. We have graduated two classes of Doctors of Osteopathy and both graduating classes gone to residency programs in other parts of the United States.
Studies of where physicians settle and work after residency shows that the place where they do residency is very often their primary choice for a permanent home. Family HealthCare Network and Sierra View District Hospital have been working for some time to bring a Family Medicine Residency Program to the area. We were recently informed that through a collaboration with A.T. Still University Medical School and The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education, we could start two new residency slots at Sierra View District Hospital as early as next year.
Family HealthCare Network made a commitment to add an Associate Program director at our Porterville campus with primary responsibility for overseeing the resident activities. The residents, who would be our medical school graduates, would also need to be supervised and mentored by local physicians and the hospital through their rotations in OB/GYN, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine. Serving as an attending physician would require a small amount of time to assure that these licensed medical doctors were exposed to the specific specialty areas.
Family HealthCare Network and A.T. Still University Medical School representatives were told by Joe Stewart, CEO at Sierra View District Hospital, that “…he could deliver the hospital piece of the proposed residency program, but that he could not deliver the MD piece”. He indicated that he was hearing from physicians on the hospital medical staff as late as 10 p.m. the evening prior to the deadline for a commitment in regards to their concerns about not being able to accomplish what was being asked of them. This was even after a conference call among the principals, including the current Chief of the Medical Staff, Jasvir Sidhu, M.D., Mr. Stewart from the hospital, a representative from A.T. Still University Medical School and representatives of Family HealthCare Network, to clarify any questions.
Apparently, some local physicians were concerned they are going to lose a little revenue from being out of the office to attend one of the residents for a short visit at the hospital.
Even after learning that the Sierra View District Hospital Board of Trustees and their CEO supported participation in the residency program, and that the 10 other national campuses affiliated with A.T. Still University Medical School had all agreed to participate in the program without any payment to attending physicians, the local doctors who are on the Med/Exec Committee at Sierra View decided that they could not commit to the project because they had not had enough time to consider the proposal.
By the way, the program would not be starting for another year. Their participation is a requirement of the program being certified and their choice to not support the residency program has effectively denied the people of the Porterville area a Family Medicine Residency Program that would undoubtedly result in more new physicians for Porterville.
It is unfortunate for the residents of Porterville that this has happened and the people of Porterville are owed an explanation by these physicians accounting for their actions. Their decision to not support this wonderful opportunity has resulted in Porterville losing the residency program and it is a travesty.
Harry Foster is CEO of Family HealthCare Network