At CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial, many patients who require hospitalization have their care coordinated by a “hospitalist,” a physician who works solely in the hospital setting. CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial's hospitalist program forms a partnership between local physicians and the hospitalists to guarantee patients receive the care they need and deserve.
What is a Hospitalist?
CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial's hospitalists, also known as “inpatient physicians,” are physicians trained and specialized to care for patients in the hospital. These physicians have expertise in dealing with health conditions that are generally treated in the hospital. Since hospitalists do not have a practice outside of the hospital, they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During the patient’s stay, the hospitalist and primary care physician are in constant communication and working together to help patients recover quickly.
Why Choose a Hospitalist?
Having a hospitalist present at CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial throughout the day and night is beneficial in many ways. Hospitalists focus on a patient’s care beginning at the time of admission and ending when the patient is discharged. During that time, they are immediately available to see hospitalized patients and become familiar with the patient’s illness. When necessary, they may see patients several times a day.
By working at CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial, hospitalists can assist in coordinating care provided by primary care physicians, specialty physicians, and supporting departments, such as physical and occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, imaging services, laboratory and nursing. This dedicated attention ensures tests are scheduled, performed and reviewed timely allowing the hospitalist to follow up on results, take action quickly and share the information with patients immediately. The results of coordinated, timely and efficient care may result in earlier discharge for patients.
How Does the Hospitalist Know About Patients?
When a decision is made to admit a patient to CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial, the primary care physician may request a hospitalist’s care. If a surgeon or specialist admits a patient, a hospitalist may be requested to see the patient in consultation.
The primary care physician will contact the hospitalist, who will then admit the patient to the hospital and begin care. Upon admission, the primary care physician will share necessary medical information with the hospitalist so that he/she is informed about the patient’s past medical history and current health condition.
Hospitalists also are utilized when patients are seen in the emergency room. Those patients are seen by the emergency room physician, who determines if the patient should be admitted to the hospital. When the patient is admitted, the emergency room physician contacts the hospitalist, who then begins providing care to the patient either in the emergency room or shortly after admission.
CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial's hospitalists are available on a 24 hour, seven days a week schedule. During hospitalization, patients may be seen by more than one physician. However, the care will continue to be well coordinated and seamless.
What are the Benefits to Patients and Primary Care Physicians?
The hospitalist team is available to help primary care physicians diagnose and manage patient care while improving quality, safety and efficiency.
- Patients may be seen several times a day
- May result in earlier discharge
- Hospitalist available 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Provides the primary care physician with frequent updates regarding the patient’s diagnosis, condition, test results and treatment plan
- Physicians provide hospitalists with the patient’s medical history
- Electronic medical records enable physicians to follow treatment
- Physicians can treat patients within the office without leaving to attend to hospitalized patients
- Keeps office patients healthy and reduces delays in the office
- Hospitalist provides detailed report and discharge summary to physician
- Physician assumes responsibility for patient care after discharge
Contacting the Hospitalist
Generally, hospitalists visit the patient once a day or more during the hospital stay. At any of these visits, hospitalists welcome questions from the patient and family members. A hospitalist is on campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nurses can contact the hospitalist or they can be reached at (936) 639-7001.
Patients may not see the same hospitalist during their length of stay. If the hospitalist for a patient changes, the physicians discuss the patient’s condition and history in detail and the patient and family are notified about the transition.
Although primary care physicians who choose to utilize the hospitalist program do not treat patients while they are in the hospital, they remain in contact with the hospitalist from the time the patient is admitted into the hospital until discharge. The hospitalist provides the primary care physician with frequent updates regarding the patient’s diagnosis, condition, test results and treatment plan. Primary care physicians provide hospitalists with the patient’s medical history. Electronic medical records are another way physicians are able to follow patient treatment.
By having a hospitalist treat hospitalized patients, primary care physicians are able to focus on caring for their patients in the office. Alleviating the need for hospital visits, physicians can now see patients in the office without having to leave the office unexpectedly to attend hospitalized patients. This helps keep office patients healthy and reduces delays in the office.
Once patients are discharged from the hospital, the hospitalist contacts the physician to provide a detailed report and discharge summary for the physician’s records. The primary care physician then assumes responsibility for patient care after discharge.