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What is a Hospitalist?

February 01, 2018

For years, whenever patients were admitted to the hospital, they could expect a daily visit from their primary care physician.

PCPs routinely made rounds at the hospital either before or after normal office hours, checking on their patients, monitoring their health and even ordering tests, consults or medications. Those days, as Dr. Muhammed Qureshi discovered after going into practice as an internist in Norwich, are over.

“As time progressed, you realized you couldn’t be there when the patient needed you if there was an acute emergency in the hospital,” Qureshi says, noting that he then decided to become a hospitalist.

Enter instead the hospitalist – an internal medicine practitioner with added training in complex medical conditions – to tend to hospitalized patients.

Hartford HealthCare has created a regional hospitalist program that covers patients at Backus and Windham hospitals.

“Very few primary care doctors come into the hospital and round anymore,” says Dr. Naomi Nomizu, director of the regional hospitalist program. “They don’t have time, so they transfer their patient’s care to one of our hospitalists.”

The benefits of hospitalists are many, including the fact that being based in the hospital makes them more available to meet with family members, follow up on tests, work with the nursing staff on patient care plans and respond quickly to changing medical conditions. They also organize all communication between the different doctors who may be called in to care for the patient, and ensure regular updates are sent to the patient’s PCP.

“I get to know the entire patient,” says Dr. Melisha Cumberland, a hospitalist at Windham. “You make some change; you have affected them and you have affected their family.”

They can also affect the way care is delivered. Backus hospitalist, Dr. Rukevwe Ehwarieme, recently launched physician attended progression rounds, a daily meeting in which the hospitalists draw together all members of a patient’s care team – nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, etc. – to decide on a care plan. The plan is then written on white boards in the patient’s room so they and their family are kept informed.

Learn more about hospitalist services at Hartford HealthCare here