Ventura County Medical Center program leaves UCLA for USC

USC is in. UCLA is out. A nationally renowned physician training program at Ventura County Medical Center is changing dance partners after a 47-year relationship with UCLA.

The family medicine residency program, ranked second best in the nation by the Doximity Physician Network, has affiliated with USC’s Keck School of Medicine as part of a larger and still-developing partnership with the system university health. County health system officials also announced a pact between its pediatric program and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, also affiliated with Keck and USC.

VCMC’s three-year residency program trains medical school graduates in family medicine and was founded in 1968, making it one of the oldest such programs in the country. It is consistently ranked as one of the top programs in the nation and is currently behind only Lancaster General Hospital in Pennsylvania.

The affiliation change means physicians who teach residents will now receive their academic appointments through Keck and be recognized as USC faculty members.

The change will not have a significant impact on the composition of medical graduates of the residency program. But it will mean more students still in medical school doing VCMC training rotations will come from the Keck School of Medicine and fewer from UCLA in a transition that could take a year.

In Ventura:New Ronald McDonald Room aims to help stressed parents of sick children

County health care officials said the change was prompted by a desire to forge a stronger bond with a teaching hospital. Over the years, fewer VCMC physicians teaching in the residency program have achieved faculty status at UCLA. Access to the school’s research and medical library has also declined, said Dr. John Fankhauser, CEO of the Ventura County Medical Center.

And while he leased an affiliation with UCLA that began in 19, Fankhauser said the county hospital needed more support.

“We approached them two years ago with what we needed,” he said. “That didn’t materialize.”

Representatives from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine did not respond to questions about the affiliation change, but said they remained committed to providing medical education in a variety of settings.

Fankhauser said USC will provide college appointments, library resources and other support. He said the agreement does not include any financial payments to the county hospital.

The new partnership will help train Keck School of Medicine students in family medicine, said Dr. Jehni Robinson, associate dean for primary care at Keck.

“Through collaboration, we believe we can accomplish more together in ways that will benefit patients, communities and the next generation of healthcare clinicians,” she said in a statement.

County officials also announced a new pediatric partnership. Like many area hospitals, Ventura County Medical Center already sends patients who need specialized care to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

COVID boosters:2nd coronavirus vaccine booster offered to county ages 50+

The new pact with the hospital and its group of physicians is designed to bring more specialized services to the Ventura County health system, including pediatric care for gastroenterology and neurology.

Patients who were previously sent to children’s hospital to see specialists will receive more care at Ventura under plans that will be implemented in phases, said Barry Zimmerman, director of the health care agency of the Ventura County. He said it was possible that some doctors from the Los Angeles hospital would be assigned to spend a month in Ventura County.

Zimmerman said partnerships with USC’s Keck Medicine should expand and could include a stronger connection to the university health system’s transplant program and other specialty services.

More than two years ago, the county health system engaged in unsuccessful talks with the private health system Dignity about a possible partnership in which Dignity would lease and operate the Ventura hospital. The talks with Keck are very different and do not involve county system management or any financial contribution from USC’s health care system, Zimmerman said.

“Not even close,” he said, adding that the goal is to build relationships that provide better access to care in the county. “The idea is to build a partnership where there is transparent service.”

Tom Kisken covers health care and other news for the Ventura County Star. Contact him at [email protected] or 805-437-0255.

SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISM: To see more stories like this, subscribe here.

Comments are closed.