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Lowville hospital to begin hospitalist program next week

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County General Hospital next week will unveil a hospitalist program intended to bolster inpatient care.

“Patient satisfaction and patient safety are two critically important elements of the hospital experience,” Eric R. Burch, the county-owned hospital’s CEO, said in a statement. “We are very excited to be able to offer this new service to our inpatients.”

Rural Physicians Group on Monday will begin staffing the North State Street facility with a rotation of doctors who specialize in the care of hospitalized patients and will be available to handle after-hour admissions.

Hospital officials expect the service to provide a bump in admissions and keep primary care physicians from having to come in at night after working all day.

“Adding hospitalists can enable our family doctors to remain in practice longer,” Mr. Burch said. “Given the difficulty recruiting family physicians, this is critical.”

Physicians may choose whether to use the service for their patients.

“The hospitalists are fully trained, experienced physicians, so I feel confident that they will provide exceptional care for my patients and help facilitate their care during hospitalization,” Dr. David F. Rosner, general surgeon and medical staff president, said in a release.

“This flexible option allows me to stay in contact with my patients with the added support of the hospitalist. I can choose to use them daily or just when I need them.”

Rural Physicians plans to employ three doctors who each would spend one full week at Lewis County General, then have the next two weeks off. A couple of other doctors also are to be available as backups.

The hospitalists may either partner with patients’ primary physicians or serve in that capacity for admitted patients who don’t have a local physician, a hospital release said.

“Studies of hospitalist programs in other facilities have shown numerous benefits to patients,” the release said. “Hospitalists can monitor treatments throughout the day and night and can be available at any time for discussions with providers, nurses, patients and families.”

During their on-duty periods, doctors from Rural Physicians are to carry a local cellphone so patients and family members can “call anytime with questions and concerns even after discharge,” the group’s website states.

Anyone with questions on the new service is asked to call the hospital’s community relations department at 376-5001.

Officials at the county-owned hospital initially sought to add a hospitalist service in conjunction with emergency room physicians, sending out requests for proposals in late July for a group that could handle both duties.

In response, the four-person ER group North Country Physicians, which has contracted with the hospital for years, submitted its resignation, indicating the group was opposed to the idea of combined coverage and would not have the resources to provide the services requested.

Hospital officials ultimately decided to contract separately with Rural Physicians for the hospitalist service and NES Medical Services for emergency department physicians, and North Country Physicians members have agreed to work with the new emergency room group on a trial basis for at least the first three months of 2013.

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