SIKESTON - Missouri Delta Medical Center's new service for the community, the Hospitalist Program, is "getting rave reviews," according to Sharon Urhahn, director of marketing for Missouri Delta Medical Center.
MDMC's Hospitalist Program began Aug. 1 with the hiring of Dr. Farzin Foruhari, who specializes in both internal medicine and pediatrics.
Dr. Lauren Blackwelder, internal medicine and pediatrics, explained a hospitalist is a medical doctor who specializes in the care of patients during their hospital stay.
"We take the patients that don't have local doctors in Sikeston or the patients of doctors who are focusing on their outpatient practice," Blackwelder said.
"We are very in-patient based," Foruhari added. "We take care of very sick patients in the hospital."
In addition to Foruhari and Blackwelder, the hospitalist team includes Kathy Vickery, assistant director of nursing at MDMC. "She is an incredible asset," said Foruhari.
Having worked in several hospitals previously, Foruhari said it is not hard to set up a hospitalist program, but it really takes a good support structure in addition to dedicated physicians to have a great hospitalist program like MDMC's. "This is an incredible hospital," Foruhari said. "I'm very happy here."
While the program will reduce costs for the hospital by streamlining hospital care and making things more efficient, the greatest benefits are for the patients, Blackwelder said.
Patients admitted to the hospital through the emergency room or who were otherwise without a local physician were previously seen by physicians on a rotating schedule.
Now, even patients who were initially skeptical about the hospitalist program have been won over by the attention they receive from the hospitalists, according to the doctors. "We have more time to spend with the patients," Blackwelder said.
With the hospitalist program in place, patients can be admitted without having to go through the emergency room.
"We also work closely with the ER," said Blackwelder, who remains the emergency room's director in addition to her hospitalist duties.
The program works as a team with MDMC's physician services and other area physicians. If a doctor is unable to make their rounds for any reason, "We are ready to respond," Foruhari said.
Support from area physicians has been great so far, he added. Likewise, as the hospitalists are committed only to in-patient medicine, they refer patients to physicians within the community for regular out-patient care.
Because doctors usually need to find a partnership or group to help cover call duty for admitted patients, Urhahn believes the hospitalist program will be a recruiting incentive as well. Hospitalists will help with or even assume all a physician's call duties for patients they admit, making it much easier to set up a small or solo practice.