Officials at Wetzel County Hospital have announced the implementation of a Hospitalist Program at the New Martinsville facility.

"Hospitalist Programs have been growing over the past 10 years, and while it is a new program at WCH, almost all area hospitals have implemented this type of service over the past few years," said Brian K. Felici, Administrator and CEO at WCH.  "We're proud to be able to provide the service to our patients and their families."

Hospitalists, Felici explained, are doctors who only take care of inpatients.  They can provide a wide variety of services, but their most common function is to care for patients while they are admitted.  Since they are based in the hospital, this makes them more accessible to meet the patient's immediate needs.  They are available to meet with patients and their families throughout the day to discuss care.

Because they are so new to the area, Felici said, many patients do not understand the role of hospitalists or why they manage their hospital stays.  He said that there are several reasons why this might occur.

The most common reason is that the patient's primary care physician does not admit patients to the hospital.  In order to assure that the patient is being properly monitored, a hospitalist would be assigned to the patient.

"More and more, primary care physicians are choosing not to pursue hospital admitting privleges," Felici commented.  "It's not a good thing or a bad thing; it's just the new trend in medicine."

Also, Felici said, some patients do not have primary care physicians, so if they're admitted through the emergency room, the hospitalist takes on the role of the patient's admitting physician.  "Although we always encourage all patients to have primary care physicians, many still do not," Felici said.

Communication is one of the most important aspects of the program, Felici said.  The hospitalist physician may consult with specialists and will consult with your primary care physician to closely monitor your progress, respond to changes in your condition, interpret test results and adjust your treatment; is your advocate throughout your stay; and will manage your healthcare plan and prepare for your discharge.  A final communication is then completed with your primary care physician upon your discharge.

"We pride ourselves on providing our patients with the very best primary care possible," Felici said.  "This is just another step that we're taking to assure that we continue to meet their needs in an effective way."

Persons who are interested in more information regarding the Hospitalist Program are encouraged to contact Shannon Smith, at 304-455-8086.