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North Country starts hospitalist program

Most hospitals don't employ on-site physicians, and North Country Regional Hospital is no different.

NCRH's medical staff consists primarily of physicians from MeritCare Bemidji and other local clinics. Often, these physicians juggle their clinical practice and taking care of patients who are hospitalized.

However, in the past 10 years, there has been a marked increase in the proportion of hospitalized patients being managed by "hospitalists," according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Hospitalists are physicians whose only focus is the care of hospitalized patients.

NCRH is part of that trend. On May 1, the Hospitalist Program at NCRH cared for its first patients.

With the new program, the hospitalist works with the patient's primary care physician when he or she is admitted.

The hospitalist coordinates the patient's care while in the hospital, including ordering diagnostic tests and establishing a treatment plan.

The hospitalist arranges any specialty care the patient may need.

Delays in patient care are minimized because the hospitalist is in the hospital day or night, seven days a week, to respond the needs of the patient, family, and nurses.

Since the program's initiation, the physicians have cared for more than 250 patients.