Carney Hospital will discontinue its two-year-old Family Medicine resident program next year, a setback for the community hospital as it seeks to balance its budget while juggling increased costs and an uptick in patient volume.
The acclaimed physician who oversaw both the residency program and the Family Medicine department – Dr. Glennon O’Grady – left Carney in November and most of the fifteen medical students whom he recruited to join the nascent program will need to find spots in new residency programs in the new year. Carney will continue to operate the residency program until June 2016— giving three third-year residents time to complete their studies.
Carney Hospital president Walter Ramos said that balancing the requirements of the residents’ training regimen with the strains of launching a new department within the hospital proved “too much of a hurdle to jump at the same time.”
“Hindsight being 20/20, we should have waited until we had Family Medicine running for a longer period of time,” said Ramos, who described the gradual shutdown of the residency program as “a thoughtful transition.”
“Family Medicine in terms of care we provide, and the clinic, is not closing or changing. The changes that we are making is not in delivery of care but in the academic program,” said Ramos, who noted that Carney will continue to operate a larger Internal Medicine residency program with 36 residents who are not impacted by this decision.
“We will continue to work on providing that care to the community, but with Family Medicine doctors and Internal Medicine doctors and residents and [remaining] Family Medicine residents,” said Ramos.
Dr. Deborah Erlich, who has served on the Family Medicine team with Dr. O’Grady, continues too serve as the program manager. O'Grady's appointment in 2012 was made by then-Carney president Bill Walczak, who himself parted ways with Carney’s owner, Steward Health Care Systems, later that same year.
Carney’s decision to end the residency, and O’Grady’s abrupt departure, represent a surprising end to a signature program. Last March, to much fanfare, a new $2 million Family Medicine clinic was opened in the hospital’s Seton Medical building. The 7,400 square-foot, 26-room wing was cited at the time as “the cornerstone of providing excellent community-based care.”
However, the practical side of managing residents – who are paid doctors who must get hands-on experience in a hospital – proved to be a chronic problem at Carney. Critically, the hospital lacks certain specialty departments, including pediatrics and birth and delivery, that residents are required to practice in during the program.