When you are admitted to the hospital in Georgetown County by your family doctor, there is a very good chance it will not be that doctor who treats you during your hospital stay.
Economics and the ever-increasing patient load has forced many primary caregivers to turn to a program known as hospitalists which turns the care of the patients over to a team of doctors specializing in hospital medicine.
Georgetown Hospital Systems — which operates both Georgetown Memorial and Waccamaw Community Hospitals — has partnered with Eagle Hospital Physicians to provide hospitalists doctors at the two facilities.
The team of ten physicians is directed by Dr. James Principe who says the program “is a win-win” for everyone.
He said because he and his team are focussed solely on hospital care, it helps the patients receive the best treatment in a more timely manner.
Principe said if a doctor has a successful office practice and has only one or two of his patients in the hospital, it is often very difficult for that doctor to get to the hospital.
He said sometimes when the primary caregiver is at the hospital making rounds, patients in his office are in the waiting room getting upset because of the length of the wait.
“And a lot of them have extended office hours now can’t get to the hospital as often as they once could,” Principe said.
He said there are three hospitalist doctors at Georgetown Memorial during the day and one at night and Waccamaw Community Hospital will soon have that same number.
Principe said another advantage to the hospitalist program is in some cases hospital stays are shorter because the patient does not have to wait for their primary caregiver to come to the hospital for discharge.
“We usually meet with the patient within a couple of hours after they are admitted,” Principe said. “If a specialist is needed, we get the ball rolling on that quicker.”
He said the hospitalist physicians are in communication with a patient’s primary caregiver during their stay.
“We are basically an extension of the family doctor,” he said.
Not all doctors have turned over their hospital patients to the hospitalists.
For example, Dr. Gerald Harmon, a Pawleys Island physician, still makes daily visits for his patients at Waccamaw Community Hospital.
By Scott Harper
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