Family Medicine Residency Program thrives with renewed funding

Several residents in the Oakwood Family Medicine Residency program had a chance to meet—and thank—one of their champions recently.

Former Governor. Jennifer Granholm, who helped reinstate funding for the program when it was threatened by cuts from the federal government, visited Oakwood Annapolis Hospital in Wayne where she heard first-hand the impact the program had on the residents and the community as a whole.

“This is a vital program for us,” said Eric Widner, division president of Oakwood Annapolis Hospital. “Without these funds we would not have been able to provide these services to the community.”

In 2004, with guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Oakwood closed its family medicine residency program at Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center in Dearborn and opened a new, improved program at Oakwood Annapolis Hospital. Oakwood President & CEO Brian Connolly said there was a great need for primary care physicians in the greater Wayne area, and medical residents would be able to learn in an excellent hands-on environment and serve the community at the same time.

“The whole idea was to bring family medicine practices into a medically underserved area,” he said.

After three years of successful compliance audits, CMS abruptly disallowed the program, canceling funding and taking back millions of dollars already dispersed to Oakwood to train residents.

With help from many members of the Michigan delegation including congressmen John Dingell, Gary Peters, John Conyers, Sandy Levin and Dan Benishek, along with senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin and former congressmen Dale Kildee, Hansen Clarke and Thad McCotter, Granholm was able to successfully have the decision reversed, securing the long-term future of the program. Granholm said it was not an easy task, but the outcome made all the work worthwhile.

“Sometimes, when things are set in motion it’s hard to go back and fix them,” she said. “I’m glad our strenuous advocacy and determination came through in this case. This program was not only vital to Oakwood and the Wayne community, but to the State of Michigan as a whole.”

The Family Medicine Residency Program at Annapolis trains 30 doctors every year. They typically oversee as many as 26,000 patient visits annually and have cared for more than 800 babies annually since the program started, according to Karen Weaver, MD, the program director. Since 2004, more than 92 primary care physicians have completed the Oakwood Family Medicine Residency Program. A total of 56 graduates stayed in Michigan to practice and 30 of those who stayed in Michigan remained in Wayne County to deliver primary care services to the families of the area.

“Many of those go on to practice in medically underserved areas,” said Mark Hannis, MD, senior vice president and director of medical education for Oakwood Healthcare. “This program has a very rich history.”

CUTLINES: (Above) Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm checks out her thank you plaque she received for her work to reinstate funding for the Family Medicine Residency program as Mark Hannis, MD, (left) director of medical education for Oakwood Heathcare, and Douglas Grucz, MD look on.
(Below): Former Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm had a chance to meet some of the residents who have benefitted from the program including: L to R: Amal Raychouni, DO, Letacia Thomas, MD, Alan Kwok Wong, MD and Catherine Cherri, MD.