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Have you or your loved one been a patient at North Hawaii Community Hospital recently and been under the care of one of our hospitalist physicians? Did you ask yourself, “What is a hospitalist?”

Hospitalists represent the most rapidly growing form of medical practice in the United States, and NHCH, like many hospitals in Hawaii, uses a hospitalist system. A hospitalist is a physician who specializes in caring for patients while in the hospital. The hospitalists’ primary professional focus is internal medicine, which involves the medical care of a patient from the time of admission until the patient leaves the hospital.

What is the role of a hospitalist during your stay?

Hospitalists do not have a medical practice outside the hospital and they provide care only for patients while in the hospital. We have several hospitalists at NHCH, which means patients who are admitted to our Medical Surgical Department may have more than one hospitalist manage their care during their stay.

The hospitalist will review your past medical records, consults with your primary care physician, and performs a comprehensive history and physical once admitted. The hospitalist will coordinate your medical care while in the hospital and is available to spend the necessary time with you and your family. The hospitalist also works with teams of nurses, case managers, and other physicians to design and coordinate an individual treatment plan for each patient.

How does a hospitalist work with your primary care provider?

The hospitalist is in charge of your care while in the hospital, but your primary care provider, or PCP, is welcome to check on you and discuss your care with the hospitalist during your hospital stay. All pertinent information regarding your hospital stay will be shared with your PCP.

Hospitalists provide many benefits to you and your family

While in the hospital, one of NHCH’s hospitalists will be available to you and your family as needed. He or she will discuss with you your plan of care and provide answers to all questions. We have physician coverage 24 hours a day, so if you need to speak to your hospitalist, your nurse can page him or her.

What happens after you leave the hospital?

After you are discharged from NHCH, you will follow-up with your primary care physician regarding any further medical needs as you will once again be under the care of your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, the hospitalist will refer you to a physician on our hospital’s medical staff for your follow-up and subsequent medical care.

Hospitalists offer timely care

• They are in-house and therefore may be available to spend more time with you and your family to answer your questions.

• They are in-patient medical physicians who specialize in the practice of hospital medicine.

• The average length of stay for a hospitalized patient can be significantly less when the care is managed and coordinated by the hospitalist team.

So if you find yourself or a loved one under the care of a hospitalist, you now know what a hospitalist is and that they are trained to specifically meet your needs while in the hospital. If you have questions or would like to learn more about our Hospitalist Program, please contact our Medical Surgical Department at 881-4790.