VIENNA - The Mid-Ohio Valley Medical Group has announced its doctors will no longer do rounds and other services for its patients at local hospitals.
Patients were sent letters informing the medical group's decision to no longer provide inpatient services at any of the area hospitals as of Tuesday. The letter was signed by 16 MOVMG physicians.
"If you are admitted to the hospital, a hospital physician will provide care for you while you are an inpatient," the letter said. "Once you are discharged, we will be here to provide your clinical care."
The decision has come about due to recent changes in health care at the local and federal levels that are making it impossible to maintain a hospital practice while also maintaining an outpatient clinic practice, the letter stated.
"This is why large areas of the country now have a hospitalist operating separately from the office-based physicians," the letter said. "A Hospitalist is a physician who specializes in the treatment of patients when they are admitted to the hospital.
"This trend has already started in our area and we are one of the last groups of physicians to implement this in our practice."
MOVMG officials said they believe this change will allow them to focus more on patient's overall health and potentially limit or avoid hospital admissions in the first place, according to the letter.
Rick Hamilton, executive director of Camden Clark Physician Corp., said the change was not part of any conflict between the medical center and the medical group.
"It is a sign of the times in medical care nationwide," he said. "The Camden Clark Medical Center and the Mid-Ohio Valley Medical Group continue to have a very good relationship."
Hospitalists have become more visible at local hospitals in recent years. The Camden Clark Medical Center and Marietta Memorial Hospital have hospitalists on staff.
A hospitalist is a physician who is responsible for managing the care of hospitalized patients, whether their doctor signs off for their patient to be cared for by the hospitalist or if the person does not have a regular doctor.
Hospitalists have regular contact with a patient's primary physician and subspecialists dealing with specific aspects of a patient's care, Hamilton said of the notion of "coordinated care," which stress communication between the doctors.
"Mid-Ohio Valley Medical Group turning over care to the hospitalists has some distinctive advantages," he said. "Those physicians have time freed up to be able to see more patients in their office settings."
Whereas the physicians could only usually see their patients for a few minutes during morning rounds, a hospitalist is available throughout the day to check on patients, order tests, read the outcomes of those tests and take appropriate action in a more timely manner, Hamilton said.
"Patients are under a physician's care 24 hours a day," he said. "It means having better outcomes for the patients."
A hospitalist is not some second-tier provider. They are board-certified physicians, usually specializing in internal medicine or family practice, Hamilton said. They have the clinical skills to treat a wide variety of ailments and in dealing with patients in critical care.
"Their clinical skills are a notch above," he said.
Camden Clark has 10 hospitalists on staff. The medical center is placing significant importance on recruiting hospitalists , which is one of the most important goals, Hamilton said. The medical center wants to have a total of 18 hospitalists in place within 8-10 months and wants to be a 30-physician program within five years, he added.
Hamilton said the move by MOVMG lets people have more access to primary care.
"It allows them to serve more people who need a primary care physician," he said.
Messages left for MOVMG Practice Manager Stephanie Gibbs and Marietta Memorial Hospital spokesperson DeeAnn Gehlauf for comment on this situation were not immediately returned.