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Cook County OB/GYN program in jeopardy
By Rob Olmstead | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 11/1/2007 12:27 AM

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Sure, we have a few problems. But they're not that serious. Trust us.

That was the message from county health administrators Wednesday in response to questions about an accreditation agency's recommendation that the residency program in the obstetrics and gynecology department at John H. Stroger Hospital lose accreditation.

Hospital administrators refused to release the letter from the accreditation agency to prove the contention that 20 problems cited were minor.

"That (letter gives) ammunition to those commissioners … who want to shut the place down," said Bureau of Health leader Dr. Robert Simon. "This letter is a confidential letter."

What Simon and Dr. Brad Langer, a Stroger Hospital administrator, did say was that none of the citations relate in any way to the quality of care patients are receiving at Stroger Hospital.

Mostly, the issues related to the fact that supervising doctors at the hospital hadn't proved to the accrediting agency -- the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education -- that residents had been performing the required number of various procedures, like vaginal deliveries and C-sections.

In some categories, Simon said, the hospital doesn't have enough procedures performed to meet the requisite number. But in other cases, it was simply a matter of not properly documenting them.

Another complaint was that doctors were not spending enough teaching time with students.

"We don't have enough faculty to really provide the teaching because they're (the doctors) doing a lot more clinical time," Simon said.

All of the complaints related to issues during the years of 2003 to 2006, said Simon, who began leading the county's hospital system in 2007.

For now, there are no immediate consequences to the recommendation..

"We are not shut down, and in fact the residency continues," Simon said. "We are fully accredited until it goes through this (appeal) process."

That appeal must be filed within 30 days of receipt, which was Oct. 23, and then the agency should rule within 21 days on whether the appeal was successful.

"If the process ends and they want to remove accreditation, they will come up with a date when that accreditation will cease," Langer said.

If that happens, the 20 residents in the program would have some time, possibly a year, to find new residencies.

But Simon said roughly 90 percent of all appeals are successful, and he expects Stroger Hospital's appeal to also succeed.