The first cardiology hospitalist program in the St. Louis area recently began at Mercy Heart and Vascular Hospital allowing more focused care for hospitalized heart patients by board-certified cardiologists available throughout the day.
Patricia Cole, MD, an interventional cardiologist, is the director of inpatient cardiology services at Mercy leading the new group. Mary Carolyn Gamache, MD, FACC, recently joined Mercy as the second cardiology hospitalist. She has been practicing with Metro Heart Group of St. Louis since 1995. Along with the cardiologists, three nurse practioners will also be a constant presence for patients and families.
General hospitalist programs, also called hospital medicine, are common in hospitals across the country providing physicians whose primary focus is the medical care of hospitalized patients. However, the specialized hospitalist programs such as cardiology are still relatively new.
In the past, cardiologists would be pulled from their office practice to cover cardiology patients in the hospital. Patients might see as many as three different cardiologists during a single hospital stay, each with a slightly different approach.
“The purpose of the program is to provide even higher quality care allowing patients and loved ones more convenient access to the specialists,” said Dr. Cole. “By having a constant presence, we can begin to develop a consistent approach to the guidelines and management of the patient’s care.”
The new program will allow the doctors and nurse practitioners more time to answer questions and explain the illness and medications to patients and families. For patients who are often readmitted, the cardiology hospitalist program should also reduce the number of subsequent admissions, improve care by decreasing unnecessary testing and expedite the therapy as the patient’s history and problems will be known by the doctor.