Hospitalists fill physician's roles in hospital services



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DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — A premature baby faced complications after birth this year. But his mother Olivia Foreman said a partnership between an Alabama hospital and Florida-based physician provider may have changed the outcome for her 35-week-old son.

Foreman's son was successfully cared for through the Southeast Alabama Medical Center's Center's Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which opened Oct. 1. She said her son was almost transferred.

"I can't imagine having just had a baby and still being a patient and recovering myself, having to travel three or four hours away from them," said Foreman, who is an NICU nurse at SAMC.

Now, Foreman said her son is a healthy three-month-old baby, she told The Dothan Eagle (http://bit.ly/1mcLOCS ). She said the care was a success with assistance of Dr. Meyer Dworsky, a neonatologist with Sheridan Healthcare who rotates shifts in SAMC's NICU.

Dworsky said at least half of the more than 20 babies treated in SAMC's NICU would have been transferred to another hospital had the Level II NICU not opened in Dothan. He said at least three critically ill newborns still had to be transferred to the UAB Women & Infants Center or Children's of Alabama, which together offer the only Level IV NICU in the state.

Neonatologists were provided through Sheridan Healthcare to head the NICU, while local nurses and staff provide around-the-clock care for premature infants that are at least over 28 weeks' gestation but experience breathing difficulties or prematurity-related infections.

SAMC spokesman Steve Pearce said in addition to neonatologists for the medical center's NICU, SAMC intends to use pediatric hospitalists to care for children in SAMC's emergency room and on the pediatric floor.

Flowers Hospital spokeswoman Megan Coakley said the hospital partners with HCI, which is part of Michigan-based ECI Healthcare Partners, to provide hospitalist services primarily within the adult inpatient arena and pediatrics.

Tammy Smith, division director of SAMC's Women's Services, said the use of hospitalists reduces the time local pediatricians spend away from their practices rotating inside hospitals.

"Pediatricians have tried to extend their office hours and open on weekends to take care of the kids in the community, but the only way to solve the time they spend at the hospital is if we (at the hospital) care for the kids in the hospital," she said.

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Information from: The Dothan Eagle, http://www.dothaneagle.com

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The Associated Press

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