SWMC hospitalist program reaches 5-year milestone

March 26, 2019

Southwest Medical Center’s hospitalist program has reached its fifth year of service in providing care for patients admitted to the regional healthcare facility. The program, directed by Andrey Ilyasov, M.D., was implemented in 2014 and has since become a crucial service for physicians looking to keep care closer to home for their patients in Southwest Kansas.

Southwest Medical Center’s hospitalist team has grown to include three physicians and six physician assistants who work closely with ER physicians and patients’ primary care providers to deliver 24/7 care for adult patients during their hospital stay. Hospitalist programs are a growing trend throughout hospitals in the U.S., but building a successful program has its challenges.

“Starting and developing a hospitalist service in community hospitals is no easy walk. The first step is to make sure the community, local medical society, and administration are ready to bring this service to the hospital,” SWMC Hospitalist Director, Andrey Ilyasov, M.D., said. “Fortunately, from my very first interview I had no hesitations: Primary Care Physicians and practitioners, surgeons and specialists, CEO Mr. Ermann, and board members all vocalized this facility was ready. And indeed, from the very beginning we felt strong local physician community support and encouragement.”

With the proper support in place, Ilyasov explains building a successful hospitalist program required continued collaborations with many stakeholders.

“Setting up contracts, nursing protocols, physician protocols and order sets, step-wise growing the program, training hospitalist Physician Assistants, tuning up communication with ER and surgeons, contingency of care and direct admission patterns with PCPs in our county and neighboring counties, etc. all required efforts and consistency, but were mainly ‘technical,’” Ilyasov said. “I am very thankful to patients of the region, all doctors and APPs, our wonderful nurses, all my fellow hospitalists, and administration for their trust, support, and hard work to develop such a robust Hospitalist Service at SWMC, despite the negative trends occurring across community hospitals in recent years.”

The hospitalist program has brought many advantages for patients served and the regional medical community as a whole.

Local physician, Rick Fitzgerald, M.D., has practiced Internal Medicine in Liberal since 1997. Dr. Fitzgerald says Southwest Medical Center’s hospitalist program has met the needs of patients in a changing healthcare environment.

“Initially, patients were a little bit disappointed that their regular physician wasn’t coming around, but the hospitalists are being accepted and I feel that good care is being provided,” Dr. Fitzgerald said. “The hospitalist program is becoming the standard throughout the medical industry and SWMC, as other hospitals, is keeping up with the changes.”

Patients visiting emergency departments also benefit from an active hospitalist program, as ER physicians can collaborate with a hospitalist physician to directly admit them or transfer them to Southwest Medical Center as an inpatient. Southwest Medical Center’s Emergency Department Director, Edwin McGroarty, M.D., describes the program as highly effective in transitioning patients from the Emergency Room to an inpatient stay as needed for their care.

“We are very fortunate at Southwest Medical Center to have an efficient and comprehensive hospitalist program,” Dr. McGroarty said. “Dr. Ilyasov, Dr. Chanda and Dr. Kamath are all easy to work with and highly skilled in caring for critical and chronically ill patients and are always available for consultations and admissions. The community is very lucky to have such well-trained and dedicated physicians.”

Southwest Medical Center’s hospitalist program has also implemented a One-Call feature, through which physicians in surrounding communities can more easily transfer adult patients to Liberal for an inpatient stay. These patients meet specific criteria for admission, and are able to receive the right level of care for their needs at Southwest Medical Center without the need to travel to a larger city.

“We have really enjoyed the services of the hospitalist program at Southwest Medical Center since its initiation about 5 years ago,” Samer Al-Hasmi, M.D., Internist and Chief of Staff at Stevens County Hospital, said. “It has been of great asset to our small rural community in helping our patients get the best care possible because of the larger scope of services that are available to our patients with the hospitalist program. We have definitely been transferring many more patients to Southwest Medical Center than we did before because of this program.”

The hospitalist program at SWMC has proven to be an outstanding service to our community,” Kelly McMurry, D.O., of Guymon said. “I appreciate their availability and the ease of transfer for the patient and family.”

Southwest Medical Center President and CEO, Bill Ermann, says the hospitalist program has assisted in increasing patient visits to the facility, while at the same time enhancing the care environment for patients and physicians.

“The addition of our hospitalist program has served as a strong compliment to our growing services over the years,” Southwest Medical Center President and CEO, Bill Ermann, explained. “We are providing advanced care for high-acuity patients closer to home. Our specialty physicians are bringing increased surgical volumes to the area. Patients are able to more easily see their primary care provider for an appointment. At the end of the day, both patients and physicians in our community have more resources to help keep families and communities healthy.”

Southwest Medical Center is a 101-bed, not-for profit regional medical center located in Liberal, Kansas. Information about the facility’s hospitalist services and care providers is available at www.swmedcenter.com.