SAEM Responds to Summa’s Replacement of Emergency Physicians

Dear SAEM colleagues, 

As many of you know, the academic Emergency Medicine community recently learned of the negotiation failure between Akron’s Summa Health System and Summa Emergency Associates (SEA). SEA is a group of Emergency Medicine physicians having a long standing reputation for quality residency training and academic contributions. After failed negotiations, the Summa Health System’s Emergency Department contract was awarded to US Acute Care Solutions (USACS). Most troubling is the apparent failure by the parent system to fully consider how the breakdown of negotiations would impact the academic mission in these Emergency Departments, including the well-established and highly respected residency training program.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) requires that residency programs have qualified program leadership. Core faculty are expected to make scholarly contributions to their respective academic departments and to the specialty. The ACGME and Residency Review Committee (RRC) recognize that residency education requires deliberate training and dedication and accredit programs based on core and specialty-specific criteria. Besides specializing in Emergency Medicine, academicians dedicate their careers to the education of physicians and students and creating new knowledge through research.  Without research and education, a specialty ceases to exist—thereby negatively impacting the care of patients.

The Summa patients along with the Emergency Medicine residents and fellows—all who are the responsibility of the Summa Health System and SEA leadership—bear the brunt of this fallout.  The involved parties must now act to ensure the following at Summa:  1) continued delivery of quality care to patients; 2) continued excellence in education and training in Emergency Medicine; and 3) a desired path forward for the academic career development of Emergency Medicine faculty.

The recent, rapid growth of corporate medicine represents a potential threat to academic practices. Corporate medicine often focuses solely on the financial “bottom line.” Lest we forget that without healthy training programs in Emergency Medicine there can be no corporate-minded Emergency Medicine physicians.  Given this and the recent events, USACS must also commit itself to the preservation of the academic missions, including the Emergency Medicine residency program, at the Summa Health System hospitals. 

High-stakes negotiations take time, effort, and ultimately, compromise. All stakeholders, including the public, payers, health care administrators, and physicians, must recognize the danger this failed negotiation represents to Emergency Medicine, and ultimately, to the care of critically ill and injured patients. SAEM fully stands with and supports those who have dedicated their academic careers to our specialty as well as the residents and fellows who have trusted Summa Health to provide them with the high-quality training they expected. 


SAEM Board of Directors