Lakeland Health Care

Lakeland's Hospitalists and Intensivists: Specialists in Inpatient Care

A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the quality of care for inpatients is strongly influenced by the availability of physicians whose primary professional focus is the medical care of hospitalized patients. The medical staff at Lakeland Hospital, St. Joseph includes four intensivists who provide 24/7 coverage for the hospital’s 17-bed critical care unit. Additionally, eight hospitalists are on staff to assist primary care physicians and specialists in the management of their hospitalized patients.

"Hospitalists and intensivists bring an increased level of experience and training that positively impacts quality of care and patient safety," said Mark Harrison, MD, medical director of the Hospitalist/Intensivist programs at Lakeland. "Recent studies have shown that overall length of stay decreases for patients who have hospitalists or intensivists as a member of their medical care team."

According to the Society of Critical Care Medicine, studies have shown a 30% decrease in length of stay for critically ill patients cared for by intensivist-directed teams.1

Lakeland Hospital, St. Joseph began an intensivist program more than eight years ago. The intensivists provide full-time direct care and serve as consultants to primary and specialty care physicians for all patients admitted to the critical care unit. Intensivists at Lakeland provide leadership for the entire critical care team, furnishing patients with continuous and consistent care and facilitating communication among primary care physicians, specialists, patients and their families.

According to the Society of Hospital Medicine, the fastest growing medical specialty in the United States is that of the hospitalist2.

"As a primary care physician, my practice is outpatient-based," said George Heenan, MD, of Family Physicians of St. Joseph. "I consider it an extraordinarily good thing for physicians like myself and their patients to have physicians who specialize in inpatient and critical care. The patient’s care is directed by the inpatient specialist who is best equipped to follow protocols and best care practices for hospitalized patients. We share information and I resume the patient’s care once he or she is released."

Hospitalists continually treat the most common reasons for admission, which gives them extended clinical knowledge of these conditions and issues involved with managing patients with multiple co-morbities. Hospitalists not only become familiar with the flow of patients through their hospital, but are often well-versed in a wide range of healthcare industry issues, such as payer/insurance rules, state and federal regulations, public health initiatives and healthcare legislation.

The hospitalists at Lakeland Hospital, St. Joseph offer numerous benefits to primary and specialty care physicians. Their support can:

• Enable physicians to spend more time with their office patients
• Offer flexibility in scheduling
• Act as a referral source for new patients
• Perform pre-procedural risk assessments, avoiding surgical delays
• Allow specialists to focus on procedural work by addressing routine medical issues
• Coordinate care management
• Act as a liaison between all members of the physician care team to ensure optimal patient  care
• Provide more immediate response to inpatient emergencies
• Facilitate the admission and discharge process

To arrange for hospitalist services for your hospitalized patients, call Mark Harrision, MD, at 269-542-1198. For the admission of a patient through the hospitalist service, call 269-927-9900.

1. "Why Improving Your ICU is Good for Physicians, Better for Hospitals and Best for Patients," Society of Critical Care Medicine. (18 October 2005)

2. "Society of Hospital Medicine Media Information Kit," Society of Hospital Medicine. (18 October 2005)

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