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Detroit — The Detroit Medical Center will appeal its loss of accreditation for an elite program that trains doctors to become neurosurgeons, health system CEO Anthony Tedeschi announced Tuesday in an internal letter to DMC employees obtained by The Detroit News.

"After careful review, the decision has been made to appeal ACGME's withdrawal of accreditation of the program," Tedeschi said in an email to DMC staff. "As an academic medical institution, training the physicians of tomorrow is an essential part of our mission."

DMC's decision is a dramatic turnaround from when its Graduate Medical Education Committee disclosed plans in a conference call on Friday that it would not want to appeal the accreditation withdrawal by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education, according to two sources close to the committee. 

Accreditation was withdrawn this fall following an on-site inspection of the program on Sept. 18. The inspection was prompted by a complaint made to the council, alleging violations of standards required for accreditation.  Accreditation is set to end on June 30.

"While we understand the seriousness of the issues the program has faced, we believe given the opportunity, we can rebuild the program," Tedeschi said in his letter. "In recent months, we have made several positive changes including putting in place a new leader. These changes reflect that we have taken and will continue to take the steps necessary to improve the program."

Wayne State University School of Medicine Dean Jack Sobel hoped to work jointly with the DMC to appeal the loss of the credential, he said in an interview with The News last week. Neurosurgery requires more training than any other specialty, with seven years of residency training, and Wayne State is DMC's longtime academic partner.

Neurosurgeons must graduate from a residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education in order to become board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, a critical credential for entering the field. 

Without accreditation, doctors enrolled in the program face having to complete the rest of their residency work at other institutions, but few of those residency positions are available. 

The health system's commitment to the neurosurgery residency program was also affirmed in a letter sent to residents Tuesday by Dr. Mark Juzych, the DMC's designated institutional official for graduate medical education, and Dr. Patricia Wilkerson-Uddyback, vice president of academic and community affairs at the health system. 

"We are committed to working with our academic partners to dedicate the resources necessary to offer a neurosurgery residency program that is built on strong leadership and training, and providing neurosurgery residents with a safe, professional and dynamic clinical learning environment," Juzych and Wilkerson-Uddyback stated.

"If our appeal is not successful, we intend to reapply as we seek to re-establish the program. Meetings are ongoing with current residents to update them on the decision and their potential role in the program's future."

In an interview with The News over the weekend, Sobel said he was "enormously disappointed" with the DMC Graduate Medical Education Committee's decision to not appeal the decision.

The Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University have had a tumultuous relationship for years, culminating in the near-severing of their 100-year partnership in May. The accreditation loss is a byproduct of the discordant partnership between WSU and the DMC, although Sobel said that was not the direct cause.

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @kbouffardDN

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