Kern Residents Save Their Family Medicine Program

After an intense three weeks of organizing, this past spring housestaff at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, CA secured a future for their Family Medicine residency program. The residents had been left with an uncertain future after the CEO of the hospital decided to suspend recruitment of Family Medicine intern and resident physicians, ultimately leading to a program closure.

The Family Medicine program is the only one of that specialty in Kern County—the largest County in California—and plays a critical role in the community. The 18 residents in the program see about 36,800 patients a year at both Kern Medical Center and the Sagebrush Outpatient clinic and half of all graduates of the program stay in the community as attending physicians. Residents decried the CEO’s decision which would place patient lives in jeopardy. “If you want to save costs, don’t cut primary care,” stated Dr. Rocky Chavez, Chief Resident of Family Medicine and CIR member.

CIR residents organized around the issue through coordinating all-resident meetings, collecting petitions and legal testimonies, reaching out to media and gathering contingent to meet with the Board of Supervisors. At that meeting, CIR residents designated speakers from all residency programs at KMC – residents and attendings – as well as patients, ancillary staff, alumni, and community advocates.

The CIR residents pointed to the importance of family medicine and their commitment as primary care physicians to keeping Kern County healthy.

“We chose Kern Medical Center to serve this community,” said Dr. Terence Chan, CIR Leader and Family Medicine resident in his open comment.

After lengthy discussion, the Kern Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to 1) Guarantee that all current residents will complete their 3-year training at KMC and 2) Fill all Family Medicine resident physician slots for 2012-2013. It was a victory for CIR and for the Kern County community!

Hospital:
Kern Medical Center

CIR Chapter Founded:
January 12, 2010

Number of Housestaff:
116

Specialties:
Emergency Medicine, General Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Psychiatry, Internal Medicine

Academic Affiliation:
UCLA and UCI Schools of Medicine

Fun Fact:
Kern County Medical Center opened its doors just one year after the county was established in 1867.

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