Hospitalists are the new breed of doctor. Their office is the hospital so they are always there. The term hospitalist was coined about 10 years ago by an Internal Medical Doctor on the West Coast and speaks to the need that patients in the hospital have very different needs than patients in a clinic.
Dr. McKay says, "My job is to make sure all the cooks in the kitchen know what they're doing. I'm there to coordinate care for everyone. Often times, and I'll use an ICU patient as an example, if someone comes in with pneumonia on a ventilator for life support until that pneumonia improves, I admit the patient and then I call a pulmonologist to help me manage the pneumonia and the ventilator. I might also call a cardiologist if some sort of heart condition pops us. At the end of the day, I'm there for the family to really help them understand what's going on with the person they love."
When we observed Dr. McKay working, we were in 1 East, the Cardio Pulmonary Unit at Avera McKennan, but really the hospitalist works on every floor in every department and that's their asset. Dr. McKay says she knows all the doctors and all the nurses and she know what's going in the ER.
Dr. McKay says, "I think it really helps other physicians too. The internal medicine sub-specialists are spread pretty thin as it is so it makes there job easier because they know someone in the hospital is available 24 hours a day if they have complications or problems."
And really isn't that what we all want when we are really sick? A doctor who is literally only a few minutes away at any hour.
There is also a movement in healthcare with the "ist" program because they've seen such success and demand with hospitalists. Avera McKennan also has laborists, OB/GYN's who are at the hospital 24 hours a day to monitor and manage labor and delivery.
There are also pediatric hospitalists and surgical hospitalists.