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New hospitalists join SNMH team

Being a patient in the hospital can sometimes feel unsettling; in addition to coping with an illness or injury, patients face the additional task of adjusting to an unfamiliar environment and the new faces caring for them. One of the ways that hospitals help to make a patient’s care more cohesive and comfortable is through the use of hospitalists — doctors who are specially trained to care for patients while they are in the hospital.

At Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH), hospitalists have been caring for patients for more than a decade. Recently, the hospitalist team expanded with the addition of four new hospitalists, with another new member expected to start in January.

“We are very pleased to be partnered with Sound Physicians and the new physicians that are now part of our permanent staff,” said Dr. Brian Evans, vice president of medical affairs.



Sound Physicians is an experienced hospitalist management group which facilitates placing these doctors in hospitals all over the country. The four new physicians (see details in box) come from diverse backgrounds with a variety of experience. Each has completed a residency in internal medicine with an emphasis on caring for hospital patients, versus focusing on clinical, or outpatient care.

“As the team continues to grow, we are able to provide even greater focus on patient experience and clinical quality,” Evans said.




Although hospitalists have been caring for patients at SNMH for many years, some people are unfamiliar with what these doctors do. Simply put, a hospitalist is a doctor who only cares for patients while they are in the hospital. They do not have offices outside the hospital, so they are able to place their entire focus on the special needs of patients in the hospital setting.

According to Dr. James Hemsley, assistant director of the SNMH hospitalist program, having seven full-time and several part-time hospitalists allows SNMH to offer quality attention to people throughout our community who require hospitalization or who need diagnostic and therapeutic interventions beyond what is available on an outpatient level.

In addition to four hospitalists seeing and caring for patients each day, one full-time physician is on-site each night to care for patients no matter the time.

“Because we are on site around the clock, we can react quickly and specifically to any changes in the patient’s condition,” said Hemsley.

The care provided by the hospitalist team is made possible by more than just the hospitalists themselves. It also involves nurses, pharmacists, medical and surgical consultants and the patient’s own primary care physician.

The team’s goal is to get the patient well enough to send home by providing the best and most efficient care possible. This is determined through examinations, monitoring and adjusting medications, obtaining thorough and pertinent medical histories and ordering and evaluating diagnostic studies, such as lab tests and imaging.

While people are accustomed to choosing a primary care physician and seeing that physician for all their needs, hospitalists are able to provide specialized care during hospitalizations because of their familiarity with hospital processes and procedures.

“At first, many patients wonder why their own doctor isn’t there to attend to them, but most come to value the care they receive from a hospitalist and the medical team that cares for them while they are ill,” Hemsley said.

Primary care physicians are in close communication with the hospitalists who are working with their patients. After a patient’s discharge, the primary care physician will provide all follow-up care based on a detailed report provided by the hospitalist.

According to Sound Physicians, studies show that when patients are cared for by a hospitalist doctor, they’re typically diagnosed quickly, more accurately and require less time in the hospital.

“Hospitalists are in tremendous demand throughout the country,” said Evans. “We are very fortunate to have attracted these skilled and compassionate healers to our team.”

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.


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