Kern Medical Center is vowing to bring its surgery residency program back online as fast as possible after the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education informed the hospital it was stripping away the program’s certification.

Russell Judd, KMC’s CEO, said Thursday that the ACGME informed the hospital by email that a February audit of the program resulted in termination of its accreditation.

Without that certification KMC cannot provide its residents with an education that allows them to become board certified in surgery, he said.

“We’re closing the program effective June 30,” Judd said. This is the deadline imposed by ACGME.

Thirteen residents currently studying through KMC are in the surgery specialty, according to ACGME records.

Judd stated in a text that five of them will be able to graduate and move forward in their careers before certification is terminated.

But the other eight residents, as well as four residents who were scheduled to start the program on July 1, will need to find a new teaching hospital program, he stated.

The exact reasons for the de-accreditation, Judd said, are not known yet because KMC has not yet received a formal report and findings from the agency.

As soon as KMC gets that report it will implement changes to fix the problems and will move as quickly as possible to apply for reaccreditation from the ACGME, he said.

But KMC’s surgery residency program has been on probation or under close watch by the ACGME for several years.

Judd said the program’s past challenges, which he believes were corrected, involved several issues including the lack of surgeons who could train student doctors in subspecialties such as vascular surgery.

To complete their education, the residents need to have a rotation in each of the surgical subspecialties, he said.

But it’s difficult for Kern County hospitals to attract specialist doctors in some of those subcategories, Judd said.

He believes KMC is making progress on improving its graduate resident education programs.

When Judd came to KMC in late 2013, he said, “four of our residency programs were on probation.”

Now only surgery is in trouble.

“We have a new leader of the GME program. All of our other programs are in good standing. Surgery is one we’ve been struggling with.”

James Burger can be reached at 661‑395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @KernQuirks.

James Burger can be reached at 661‑395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @KernQuirks.

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