Bronson Battle Creek (BBC) announced plans to seek designation as a teaching hospital, an effort that will expand healthcare access, aid in the recruitment of new physicians, and support economic vitality in Battle Creek.
Bronson Healthcare, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed), and Grace Health are working together to develop a new residency training program in family medicine. Once approved and operational, the Battle Creek residency will be a destination for recent medical school graduates from across the nation to complete the training and study required to become family medicine providers.
“Most people are aware that our nation faces a shortage of physicians,” said Frank Sardone, president and CEO of the Bronson Healthcare system. Bronson is committed to doing all we can to improve access to care in our region. Establishing a teaching program at Bronson Battle Creek, similar to what we have in Kalamazoo, is a purposeful way to expand the base of primary care providers now and well into the future.”
“This new Family Medicine residency at Bronson Battle Creek will further our growing efforts in graduate medical education,” said Hal B. Jenson, MD, MBA, founding dean of WMed. “There are more than 200 resident physicians receiving training through our program already. WMed is working to ensure that exceptional physicians are available to meet the needs of southwest Michigan, the state, and the nation.”
Six new physicians will be accepted into the three year curriculum each year. Once the residency is fully operational there will be 18 family medicine residents practicing in the community at any given time.
Residents will spend time rounding and learning in virtually every medical discipline that Bronson Battle Creek offers. Training will be provided by new residency teaching staff and by members of the BBC medical staff.
Grace Health, Battle Creek’s federally qualified family health center, will serve as the outpatient training site for the residency. “Physicians who are fortunate to be part of this residency will learn and participate in our integrated model of care,” said Grace Health president/CEO A.J. Jones, ND. “They will serve alongside our team of employed physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, behavioral health consultants and dentists – learning, seeing patients, experiencing a real practice in which different disciplines work together to provide coordinated, patient-centered care.”
Startup funding for the BBC family medicine residency is being provided by three significant grants of $1 million each from the Bronson Healthcare Group, Bronson Battle Creek Hospital Community Partners, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. All three funders cite the unique opportunity for this program to both strengthen healthcare services in Calhoun County and to build a more robust local economy.
“What a terrific opportunity to impact the future of Battle Creek,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “For each of the community partners engaged in this exciting venture, we envision a win-win-win opportunity. These physician residents will provide care to residents of our area during their three years of training in Battle Creek; a significant number may then choose to stay in our community and create new practices or join existing ones; and throughout the process there is a positive economic impact on our economy – with the arrival of new teaching faculty, physician residents, and their families living and playing in Battle Creek.”
Status as a teaching hospital is expected to bring enormous benefit to the health and vitality of the Battle Creek community:
- Studies indicate that teaching hospitals have a higher overall quality of care than non-teaching hospitals;
- Teaching hospitals are better able to recruit and retain physicians;
- Teaching hospitals serve as a pipeline for new medical staff in a community (nearly half of residents choose to practice within 50-miles of their training);
- BBC status as a teaching hospital will bring jobs and investment to Battle Creek.
“This is an important day for Bronson Battle Creek and all of Calhoun County,” said Bronson Battle Creek chief operating officer Jim McKernan, BSN, MBA. “We are honored to become a teaching hospital and prepare the next generation of primary care providers. Many members of our medical staff have enthusiastically expressed interest in sharing their experience as faculty; and the arrival of additional teaching staff and the medical school graduates themselves will create a dynamic environment for learning and patient-centered practice.”
Work on the new residency has been underway for more than a year. If all goes as expected, approval will come in early 2017; recruitment for the first class will begin soon after; and training of the initial class of family physicians would begin in the summer of 2018.