How Can Hospitalists Help You?
August 12, 2020
If you're admitted to Huron Regional Medical Center, a physician who specializes in caring for hospitalized patients can oversee and coordinate your care. That's good news for you and your primary care physician (PCP). Traditionally, PCPs manganed the care of their patients who were admitted to the hospital for illness or injury. Now, however, many PCPs are so busy seeing individuals in clinic that it’s difficult to divide time to see hospitalized patients. That’s where hospitalists come in.
Hospitalists are physicians whose sole focus is caring for patients during a hospital stay so they can safely return home or move to the next level of care. Often trained in internal or family medicine, hospitalists can care for patients in almost every unit of the hospital, from the emergency department to postacute care.
In November 2019, HRMC established a hospitalist program featuring three physicians who take turns caring for patients and providing around-the-clock availability, typically for one week at a time. The program at HRMC is unique because PCPs can still care for their patients in the hospital, unlike other larger hospitals where only the hospitalist sees inpatients. HRMC hospitalist James Kerr, MD, has practiced family medicine and emergency medicine
in large and small hospitals throughout the U.S. for more than three decades.
“During an average day at HRMC, I’m caring for six to 10 patients in the hospital and making sure they get the other services they need, such as physical therapy or laboratory tests,” Dr. Kerr says. “I also help arrange post-discharge surgeon or specialist consultations. When I’m not at the hospital, I’m always available by phone and can get there in minutes. I get to know all of my patients during the week that I care for them.”
Hospitalists keep community physicians updated about their patients and help patients transition back to their physicians’ care following discharge. Studies have shown that receiving care from a hospitalis t can reduce the length of a hospital stay by 30%, according to the Society of Hospital Medicine.
“The hospitalists care for not only patients who have PCPs, but also patients who either don’t have a PCP or their provider does not have admitting privileges,” says Becca McCaskell, CNP, who is a case manager on the medical floor at HRMC. “I appreciate knowing that whenever I have a question, I can contact the providers and talk through a situation or plan of care. Keeping the continuity of care is so important in our community.”
Thomas Fennessy, MD, a family physician who also joined the HRMC hospitalist team, agrees that teamwork is a vital element of the hospitalist program that benefits patients. “Working with the emergency room provider and the patient’s primary care physician, we partner to provide timely and seamless care from admission to discharge,” Dr. Fennessy says. “Having a hospitalist program allows more patients to receive great care close to home because
of our team approach.”
We weren’t thinking about the possibility of a global pandemic when we established the hospitalist program last fall, but with the advent of COVID-19, it became apparent that the timing was perfect. The program strengthens and supports our COVID-19 safety initiatives and allows PCPs and other physicians in our
community to focus on caring for patients via telemedicine or in person.
HRMC hospitalist Vincent Hinshaw, DO, says his experience working in critical-access and large hospitals around the country has uniquely equipped him to care for patients with COVID-19 at HRMC. “Because I’ve cared for seriously ill patients, including those with and without COVD-19, in larger hospitals, I have a keen sense of when it’s appropriate to keep those patients at HRMC and when we should transfer them to a bigger facility,” Dr. Hinshaw says. “In many cases, a bigger hospital would provide the same level of care that we would. However, there are also times when patients would benefit from immediate access to other specialists, such as cardiologists or pulmonologists.”
Learn more about how hospitalists are benefitting HRMC patients and providers by listening to the WellOne Connection On-Air.
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