Primary Care Physicians Step Up to Help Hospitalists

by Delilah Newton | Jan 07, 2021
Throughout our health system, team members have stepped up to support each other during the pandemic. Approximately 200 employees have offered to pick up shifts to help on the inpatient units outside of their regular schedules. 

Several of our primary care physicians have also volunteered to take hospital shifts to support our Hospitalist group in response to a high patient census for several months, including our highest number of COVID-positive patients in December. The physicians are Drs. Mary Beth Hensley, MD; Andrea Mernitz, MD; Loren Murray, MD; David Porter, MD; Kathleen Smith, MD; and Lindsay Anderson, MD. 
Hospitalist Medical Director Lee Kiser, MD, who reached out to his physician colleagues for support, is grateful for their response. “The number of patients admitted to the hospital has at times nearly exceeded the capacity of the inpatient providers. Several of our primary care physicians have signed up for extra shifts to assist the hospitalist service, allowing us to continue to provide safe and effective care to our community. We want to send our sincere thanks to them,” he said.
Dr. Porter said physicians had prepared back in the spring for a patient surge. They trained to work on the floors, but then the inpatient case totals plateaued for a while, so the additional support was not needed. Then around Halloween, the number of COVID-positive patients started increasing and have remained high since. The group of primary care physicians signed up to take shifts at the hospital in addition to their normal daily workload. Hospitalists usually work seven days on, seven days off, 10-12 hours per day. “Physically and mentally, it’s pretty demanding work,” said. Dr. Porter. “We’re all trying to fill in when we can.” 

Dr. Porter said he and the other primary care physicians sign up for three-day shifts to give patients more continuity with the same physician. That means working during what might be a day off, rescheduling their own patients to be seen by another physician in the practice, or moving those appointments that are not urgent to later dates. 

This is another great example of teamwork that has shone throughout this pandemic. We thank this team of physicians for helping their fellow physicians, our patients, and our community!

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