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Aurora Sheboygan Memorial launches hospitalist program

Friday, October 06, 2006

New care model focuses care for hospitalized patients

Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center officials have announced a new way of treating hospitalized patients with an extra layer of care and protection. Hospitalists - physicians who are devoted to providing care to hospitalized patients - will now care for all patients who are admitted to the hospital.

The hospitalist model of care allows physicians to focus on the complex medical problems faced by patients who require hospitalization. Hospitalists represent the nation's fastest-growing branch of medicine. There are now 10,000 hospitalists around the country, and the Society of Hospital Medicine expects their ranks to triple by the end of the decade.

"Hospitalist programs around the country have shown to produce shorter hospital stays, improve treatment results, lower costs, and increase patient satisfaction," said Dan Meyer, administrator at the medical center. "The beginning of our hospitalist program culminates an extensive planning process that began more than a year ago, and we are excited to begin to offer this new model of patient care."

The hospitalists at Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The hospitalist team consists of board-certified, internal medicine physicians with advanced cardiac life support certification. Five hospitalists are expected to be in place by the end of October, with the first 3 starting October 3.

"This is an exciting time for our new hospitalist model of medicine here at Aurora," said David Phelan, M.D., medical director of the hospitalist program. "We are in the hospital the entire day. We are able to spend more time talking to patients and family about their care. We are able to check on patients more frequently. Communication is key, and we provide that daily communication with patients and family."

Working in close cooperation with the patient's regular physician, the hospitalists will provide all bedside care, order tests and treatments, consult with specialists, arrange family conferences, and otherwise meet patients' needs throughout their hospitalization. After discharge, patients resume receiving coordinated care from their primary care physician.

Many physicians in Sheboygan are excited to have hospitalists on hand to help them meet the demands of both outpatient appointments and inpatient rounds at the hospital.

"This is terrific for both the patients and the physicians in Sheboygan," said Nikolo Quinones, M.D., Aurora Sheboygan Clinic internal medicine physician. "I can provide the hospitalist with valuable information about my patient's medical history, medications, and special needs. In turn, hospitalists will consult with me and maintain regular communication with me during a patient's stay in the hospital."

Primary care practices will see another benefit of the hospitalist program, since physicians spend less out-of-office time going back and forth to the hospital to see patients (called doing ‘rounds'), they are able to see more patients at the office and reschedule fewer appointments around hospital visits.

"When you are a primary care doctor seeing 20 to 25 patients in your office, you can't take care of your hospitalized patients as well without canceling or pushing back appointments," said Dr. Quinones. "The hospitalist staff is filling a need for us and making an important difference."

Dr. Phelan admits that his team of new hospitalists love seeing patients and will miss their outpatient practice, but they see this as a new challenge and a way to make a bigger and better difference in people's lives. "I like the variety of caring for patients in the hospital. My former patients have been referred to excellent primary care physicians."

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers care at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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Contact: Mark Kantola (920-451-5351)

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