“They’ve got a good system here and a beautiful hospital on top of that. People in Craig are very lucky to have this facility. I know towns that are a lot bigger that don’t have anything as nice as this.”
Rebecca Moore, internal medicine specialist and hospitalist staffing The Memorial Hospital in Craig
When responsibilities of the job add up, a doctor’s primary task —tending to the well-being of patients — can sometimes be overlooked.
Officials at The Memorial Hospital in Craig contend a new program will ensure this oversight happens as little as possible.
Since launching a hospitalist program earlier this month, TMH has received positive feedback from medical staff and patients alike, hospital officials said.
In June, the hospital board approved a one-year, $664,000 contract with Rural Physicians Group to provide TMH with multi-purpose physicians to remain on-call at the hospital for nine or 10 days at a time.
TMH has hosted three hospitalists so far, beginning with John Thieszen and Timothy Bresnahan, who are affiliated with hospitals in Fort Collins and Elmhurst, Ill., respectively.
Rebecca Moore, of Denver, started seeing patients Wednesday, with eight patient admissions awaiting her.
Moore, a University of Colorado School of Medicine graduate, has been a practicing internal medicine specialist for 25 years. She began working as a hospitalist at facilities around Colorado about 12 years ago.
“I’ve worked extensively in Colorado Springs, Denver, Delta and Longmont, so I know the state pretty well,” she said.
Moore said the position demands being ready for any and all situations at any and all times.
“I’m used to it,” she said. “I was working nights before I became a hospitalist, so now it’s just like two 12-hour shifts put together for about a week.
“Emergencies can always happen, sick people can get sicker and have a heart attack or a stroke unexpectedly.”
While on duty, hospitalists are required to carry a cell phone, and they are not allowed to leave the building for more than 30 minutes at a time.
They are also required to live within the hospital during their shifts.
Jennifer Riley, TMH chief of operational excellence, said patient rooms have been arranged as living quarters to be used when the visiting doctors need to recharge their batteries.
“So far, they haven’t been too tired out,” she said. “There have been plenty of opportunities for them to rest.”
TMH physicians are also able to check in on their regular patients, though the hospitalists handle day-to-day care.
Riley said the medical staff’s welcoming reaction to the new additions was encouraging.
“The nursing staff thinks they’re doing great and that they’re very responsive,” Riley said. “I personally haven’t heard any negative feedback.”
For Moore, the feeling is mutual.
“Everyone here has been so helpful and attentive,” she said.
Riley noted that the purpose for hiring hospitalists was not to make drastic changes in TMH’s patient care, but to keep up the continuity of existing care without patient charts constantly changing hands.
“Before, people staying in the hospital for four or five days could wind up seeing four or five different doctors,” she said. “This way, they can see the same person.
“Patients have been very pleased to have one doctor and the family members I’ve talked to think they’re very sharp.”
Moore said working as a hospitalist has allowed her to get more face time with patients.
“Ideally, they should be checked on two or three times a day,” she said. “I love these rural community patients and the smallness because patients can get lost in big systems.”
Another reason for bringing in hospitalists was TMH’s desire to increase efficiency in handling patient flow.
“It’s only been two weeks, so it’s too soon to tell how we’re doing with that,” Riley said. “We’ll be looking at all kinds of statistics to see how it’s going down the line.”
Riley said hospital administrators will analyze departments such as lab work, radiology and cardiopulmonary.
“The cardiopulmonary department has been indicating that the hospitalists have been ordering more aggressive treatments than we’re used to, but they just have a different methodology,” Riley said.
Moore said she has regularly checked in with numerous people around TMH since arriving, including emergency room staff, hospital administrators and the medical records department, among others, to stay on the same page.
“They’ve got a good system here and a beautiful hospital on top of that,” she said. “People in Craig are very lucky to have this facility. I know towns that are a lot bigger that don’t have anything as nice as this.”
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