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Medical Center to begin Hospitalist Program

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Greene County Medical Center is slated to begin a “hospitalist” program in partnership with Acute Care, Inc. on Tuesday, September 2.  Hospitalists are physicians who manage a patient’s care while in the hospital.  They have long been used in larger medical facilities, and are now becoming quite common in smaller facilities because they are readily available to provide more focused, patient-centered care.

Hospitalists will work with patients and families on a daily basis to provide responsive and coordinated care, collaborating with nursing staff, specific care teams and a patient’s primary care provider before, during and after hospital care, to ensure best outcomes.

Currently, McFarland Clinic physicians rotate “on-call” shifts for inpatient care, or see their own hospitalized patients.  Katie Heldt, chief nursing executive, noted that discussions about using hospitalists at the medical center started over a year ago.  “Then this past spring, when McFarland Clinic physicians expressed further interest in such a program, we were able to move forward with using hospitalist physicians,” she said.

The medical center then began meeting all necessary requirements and making medical staff bylaw changes, in order to finalize a hospitalist program with Acute Care, Inc., the firm that has been the medical center’s longtime provider of emergency room physicians.

In the medical center’s new hospitalist program, all ER physicians will be credentialed to perform both ER duties and hospitalist duties.  This will provide seamless care for emergency room patients who need a hospital stay, either at the medical center or with a transfer to another facility if needed.  Current practice requires an ER physician to make contact with the on-call physician from McFarland Clinic and request hospital admittance of a patient.

It’s not just ER patients who will have improved care.  Hospitalists manage the daily care for all patients during their hospital stay.  Having a hospitalist in the facility and available around the clock allows for improved coordinated care, as they are able to communicate with the patient and family members on a regular basis.  The hospitalist works in close collaboration with the nursing staff and primary provider as needed, to provide better quality care and a timely discharge planning process.

Dr. Jon Van Der Veer, the medical center’s vice president of medical affairs, said that “being able to work with Acute Care, Inc. and having current ER physicians serve as hospitalists will provide for familiar faces to many of our patients. It’s a win-win.”

Medical center physicians Dr. David Jaskey of Advanced Women's Care and Dr. Jeffrey Wahl of West Central Orthopedics will continue to see their patients.  Van Der Veer also noted that Dr. Steven Karber and Dr. Constantine Panakos with McFarland Clinic will continue to manage the care of their patients during weekday hours. 

The medical center anticipates that even with ER duties – where the medical center sees approximately ten patient visits in a 24-hour period – patients and their families should notice an immediate difference in access to provider care during their hospital stays.