Hospitalist Program

Many hospitals have sought to increase their level of patient care by using hospitalists to provide for the needs of their admitted patients. As a part of this trend, Franklin Medical Center offers a hospitalist program featuring physicians who have strong experience in caring for hospitalized patients, many who often have serious medical conditions and frequently need a more advanced level of care. It’s this expertise that many primary care physicians have come to trust and rely upon with the FMC hospitalist program.

Your primary care physician may ask a hospitalist to coordinate and oversee your hospital care from admission to discharge. During that time, the hospitalist will give frequent care updates to your physician. Moreover, there is a hospitalist director to oversee and assist the entire hospitalist program and, in some cases, become directly involved with the care provided. I myself currently serve in the hospitalist director role for Franklin Medical Center.

Many patients often ask, “What does a hospitalist do?” A hospitalist is involved in every aspect of your hospital stay, including coordinating and providing your medical care. This may include working with medical and surgical consultants, physical and occupational therapists, discharge planners, dietitians, and clergy. It also covers ordering laboratory or X-ray tests and providing regular updates to you and your family. Everyone recognizes that this kind of frequent communication and monitoring is important, and the hospitalist is charged with making sure it takes place.

Many of my patients have found it a great help having a hospitalist because of the availability he/she offers. Because hospitalists are primarily located in the hospital, they are more available most of the day to meet with family members, to follow-up on tests, answer nurses’ questions, and simply deal with problems that may arise much faster. In many instances, hospitalists may see a patient more than once a day to assure that care is going according to plan and to explain test findings to patients and family members.

I often explain to my patients that because hospitalists are in the hospital most of the time, they are able to track test results and order necessary follow-up tests promptly. This is in contrast to the traditional setting where your primary doctor may come to the hospital the next day to follow-up the results and take the next necessary step at that time.

The presence of a hospitalist does not mean your primary doctor is not allowed to admit patients or even care for his patients while in the hospital. Your primary doctors privileges remain intact and he/she may see you at any time.

However, your primary doctor relies heavily on the hospitalist to care for patients while they are away from the hospital, in busy clinics or nursing homes, or are unable to round. Nevertheless, your primary doctor can intervene, change or write orders, and order tests at any time during your hospital stay. It is not uncommon that from time to time your primary doctor may round with or without the hospitalist to ensure the best care is being delivered to each patient.

If a patient questions the benefits of having a hospitalist, I always place emphasis on the on-site care. Since these physicians are exclusively in the hospital and provide 24/7 on-call coverage, hospitalists can rapidly coordinate your care and respond quickly to any changes in your condition. Another plus is a shorter hospital stay. Patients cared for by hospitalists usually have shorter hospital stays and are just as satisfied with their care. Easy access to a hospitalist is priceless. Patients and their families have the opportunity for more frequent one-on-one contact with the hospitalist, ensuring that your questions are promptly answered.

Our own program makes sure that your hospitalist will speak with your primary care doctor on or near the day of discharge and send a report about your care while at FMC. Although you will be transitioning back to your primary care physician, it’s not at all uncommon for patients to call the hospitalist back to ask a question about their care. Of course, if for some reason you’re readmitted, it will likely be the same hospitalist who will again assume your overall care.

Dr. Jeffery Combetta