PENNSYLVANIA: Hospitalists ease demands on primary doctors while giving patients constant attention

By Kathleen Edwards

Published: Monday, July 29, 2013, 12:56 a.m.
Updated: Monday, July 29, 2013

public concierge medicineIn days gone by, doctors would make house calls. With leather bag in hand, they would take your temperature and divvy out pills, all in the comfort of your home.

Until this month, if you were a patient at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital, your doctor would visit you in your hospital room, checking your chart and making recommendations for your recovery.

But on July 1, Armstrong started a new program, one that’s finding momentum across the nation. It’s a program where your primary care physician won’t be standing at the foot of your bed, but instead, you’ll have a doctor known as a hospitalist.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hospitalist as “a physician who specializes in treating hospitalized patients of other physicians in order to minimize the number of hospital visits by other physicians.” According to Emergency Resource Management Inc. Vice President of Hospitalist Services Dr. Amy Meister, a hospitalist is much more than that.

Meister said this new program will not only provide better care to the patient in the hospital but also help primary care physicians spend more time with their office patients.

“The hospitalist program is a safety mechanism,” said Meister. “There is a physician on staff to see patients 24/7. Prior to the hospitalist program, most hospitals would only have an ER doctor on staff at night. That’s one doctor for the whole hospital. If he is tied up, it’s hard for him to get to a patient.”

So the hospitalist program will provide patients with access to a board certified doctor around the clock. But what exactly can you expect if you are admitted to ACMH and a hospitalist, not your primary care physician, is attending to you?

“The highest level of care and communication,” Meister said.

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