If you or a loved one is a patient at Owatonna Hospital you might meet a new kind of doctor: a hospitalist.
Hospitalists are doctors who specialize in the acute care of patients in a hospital setting only. Acute care refers to care for patients who have chronic or potentially severe medical conditions. Hospitalists direct your care until you're discharged.
Owatonna Hospital has four hospitalists who devote their full attention to patients, and are available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.
"Our hospitalists don't see patients outside the hospital, so they don't have to juggle a busy office schedule with hospital rounds," said Beatrice Oberg, quality manager at Owatonna Hospital. "Their office is within the hospital, so they're able to see their patients several times a day if necessary."
Because they're based in the hospital,hospitalists are readily available to answer questions or concerns that you or those providing your care might have.
The staff can get answers faster because they have just one doctor to go to - not multiple doctors, said Oberg.
Having a hospitalist direct your care could also mean that you go home sooner. Hospitalists are available to order tests, interpret results and approve your discharge.
The hospitalists at Owatonna Hospital work closely with your primary care provider. They have access to all your medical records and consult your primary care provider or a specialist if the need arises.
Most hospitalists are trained in general medicine and have expertise in common inpatient disorders. Research has shown that their expertise in caring for hospitalized patients can result in better outcomes and greater patient satisfaction.
Your hospitalist and primary care provider stay in close touch. "They have contact with each other at the beginning, during your stay and at the end of your stay. That way, there is a continuity of care," Oberg said.