The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

July 21, 2013

University Hospitals resident physicians enhance care at UH Conneaut and Geneva medical centers

Star Beacon

— University Hospitals Regional Hospitals Department of Medical Education (based at UH Bedford and Richmond campuses) is now providing physician learners with in-hospital training to serve the growing health care needs of rural communities in Ashtabula and Lake Counties.

In addition to urban and suburban rotations, a distinctive feature of the Department of Medical Education’s osteopathic and podiatric programs is clinical experience at critical access hospitals that serve Northeast Ohio’s outlying areas.

Time is devoted each year to a “rural selective” in which a wide range of interns, residents and fellows are exposed to patients and care environments at UH Conneaut and Geneva medical centers.

“These two hospitals are beacons of quality care, and our learners are experiencing a previously untapped resource of outstanding educators and teaching physicians there,” says Michael P. Rowane, DO, Director of Medical Education, UH Regional Hospitals. “The rural selectives enhance the already tremendous quality of care at UH Conneaut and Geneva medical centers, and offer patients greater access to that care.

For residents who have not had exposure to rural environments, these rotations often serve to recruit them to stay and practice there.”

Autonomy is one of the qualities that brings new physicians to Ashtabula County. “In the rural setting, our physician learners tend to have more opportunities for independent decision-making,” says Amitabh Goel, MD, FACS, Chairperson of Surgery, UH Geneva Medical Center, who currently instructs Family Medicine and Internal Medicine residents in surgical rotations at the hospital. “Ashtabula County is the largest county by area in Ohio, yet it has the lowest physician-to-patient ratio. Specialists and primary care physicians are needed in this underserved region, and these osteopathic and podiatric programs are working to fill that need.”

University Hospitals’ osteopathic rotations have been at UH Conneaut and Geneva medical centers since July 2012. Podiatric rotations began this month. “Our residents started July 1 and immediately began experiencing what rural medicine is all about,” says William J. Saar, DPM, Director of Podiatric Medical Education, UH Community Hospitals, and the originator of one of the most successful podiatric training programs in the United States. “When they’re out there and they start taking care of people, they find they can actually sit with patients, talk with them and become friends. They fall in love with that more relaxed style of care.”

The Department of Medical Education’s rural selective at UH Conneaut and Geneva medical centers currently includes interns, residents and fellows from its Family Medicine; Internal Medicine; Emergency Medicine; Orthopaedic Surgery; Pediatrics; Allergy and Immunology; Podiatric Medicine and Surgery; Podiatric Foot and Ankle Reconstructive Surgery; and Infectious Disease and Wound Care programs.

“The UH Regional Hospitals osteopathic and podiatric education initiative is vital for our region’s future,” says Robert G. David, President, UH Conneaut and Geneva Medical Centers. “It allows residents to work alongside our great physicians and employees, and it demonstrates to them why our hospitals have been so successful on a national stage with regard to quality and patient satisfaction. This initiative is our recruitment tool for the future, and it enables us to deliver on our mission, ‘To Heal, To Teach, To Discover’ for the benefit of everyone in our community.”