St. Joseph's hospitalist program to provide faster access to physiciansSt. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center will have a hospitalist on-call 24 hours a day to assist staff with questions and address patient issues beginning June 1.
By: Betsy Simon, The Dickinson Press
St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center will have a hospitalist on-call 24 hours a day to assist staff with questions and address patient issues beginning June 1.
The hospitalist program, which will allow for quicker access to physicians when a patient from one of the Dickinson clinics is being treated at the hospital, begins with three hospitalists: Dr. Mark Hinrichs, Dr. Susan Catto and Dr. Sonja Samsoondar.
Michelle Hinrichs, chief nursing officer/outpatient care services/quality for St. Joseph’s, said the hospitalist is a physician who specializes in the care of a patient during their hospital stay. She added that most are board certified in internal medicine or family practice.
St. Joseph’s hospitalists will work primarily with the patients who are admitted to the hospital by internal medicine or family practice physicians at Great Plains Clinic Inc. and Medcenter One Dickinson Clinic. Most of the patients they see will be age 18 and older.
“Say an internal medicine or family practice patient comes to the emergency room and it’s determined that they need to be admitted into the hospital,” Michelle Hinrichs said. “The hospitalist that is on-call will be notified and they will do that patient’s admissions, then follow them through their stay and discharge them back to their primary physician for the appropriate follow-up.”
Patients will still be in contact with their primary physicians.
“If the primary physician wants to come over and do a meet and greet, they are welcome to come over and say hi,” Michelle Hinrichs said. “If a patient feels they really need to talk to their doctor, we would certainly communicate that. One of the main things is that we want to be in collaboration and communicating with that primary care physician all the time.”
She said having an on-call hospitalist would hopefully lead to “quicker, easier access to the physician.”
“In the past, sometimes we would have to put a call into their physician, and wait for them to be done doing something at the clinic,” she said.
The clinic physicians and hospital administration spent 14 months formulating the program, said Reed Reyman, president/CEO of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center.
“We started work with physician groups and did it at the request of the clinic to help them better handle patient loads,” he said.
“It was all done in collaboration with the clinics to help them open up more slots for people and improve the quality of care people receive,” he added.
“This will be a big change for the public because people will see a hospitalist and not always the doctor who admitted them.”
Hospital officials conducted research that included learning about hospitalist programs at health care facilities in and out of state, then molding that research into a program suitable for Dickinson.
The rough draft of the plan was presented to physicians at Great Plains Clinic and Medcenter One.
“We made some adjustments after talking to the physicians then met with patient care directors,” Michelle Hinrichs said. “I met with Dr. Samsoondar and Dr. Hinrichs and went over the feedback, tweaked things and answered questions. We’ll make adjustments then roll with it.”
One hospitalist will work solely at the hospital and two will be on a modified clinic mode to make them more accessible to assist at the hospital.
Dr. Mark Hinrichs has been associated with the hospital and clinic for more than two decades.
Samsoondar and Catto were recruited from outside of St. Joseph’s.
Samsoondar will be lead hospitalist at St. Joseph’s and comes from Glendive, Mont. She has a background in internal medicine and pediatrics and previously worked in a hospitalist program. Samsoondar has experience in both inpatient and outpatient clinics.
Catto comes from a larger hospital in Michigan and also has a background working at inpatient and outpatient clinics.
“I think they bring a nice combination of talent to the table,” Michelle Hinrichs said. “The physicians in our community were the ones who asked for this. This program will help in recruiting and retaining physicians. It’s a care model that has been around for a while and it’s becoming the way of doing things.”
Dr. Thomas Arnold, chief medical officer and an obstetrician/gynecologist at St. Joseph’s and a hospitalist liaison for Catholic Health Initiatives, said patient care will benefit.
“This is an initiative brought by CHI to help with the challenge of rural healthcare at St. Joseph’s and it is a change to the traditional way medicine is done,” he said. “The goal is to provide better health care for Dickinson and the community. It provides around the clock, in hospital care by the physician.”