UB surgery program waits on accreditation

January 23, 2014 Updated Jan 23, 2014 at 1:33 PM EDT

By Dan Miner, Reporter- Business First

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UB surgery program waits on accreditation

January 23, 2014 Updated Jan 23, 2014 at 1:33 PM EDT

Leaders of the University at Buffalo's general surgery residency program will find out in late February whether the changes they've made to the program are enough to remove its "probationary" tag.

The decision has wide-ranging implications for the region's only general surgical residency program, which also serves as a funding mechanism of more than 50 surgeons in a variety of hospitals, a vital cog in their capacity to handle surgical demands.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's surgery residency review committee is scheduled to meet Feb. 20 and 21 and decide whether to remove UB from probation, leave it on probation or shut down the program.

ACGME put the program on probation in 2012 after a site visit and review produced 21 citations, several of which were starkly critical of its structure and atmosphere of instruction.

Program leaders told Business First in August 2013 that five of those citations had already been rectified, and that progress was being made on the other 15.

New leadership has been established with Dr. Gregory Cherr taking over as new program director from Dr. James Hassett, who held the post for nearly 18 years.

And Dr. Roseanne Berger, UB's associate dean for graduate education, said the program's structure was being overhauled into a more modern, inclusive approach.

In anticipation of the February review, Berger issued a statement saying ACGME sent two people for a site review of UB's general surgery and pediatric surgery residency programs in October.

"The purpose for the site visit, which consisted of interviews with faculty, residents and the program directors, was to verify and clarify information that the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences had submitted to the ACGME regarding the programs," Berger said. "The site visitors were impressed with the progress made by both programs."

ACGME does not make its agendas or decisions public, though a program's status is viewable on its website.

Though UB faculty help run the program and train surgical residents, the program is completely separate from UB's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, scheduled for a new $375 million home on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The residency program, through which hospitals contract for surgical services, attracts hundreds of applicants each year from medical schools across the country.

Funding, some of which is contingent on accreditation, is secured through state and federal governments and commercial insurers.

Kaleida Health and Erie County Medical Center both participate in the program, while representatives of Catholic Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the VA Western New York Healthcare System also sit on subcommittees that review GME program operations. In total, UB programs provide 768 medical residents at area hospitals.