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Ministry Health Care Community Report
Community Report

Hospitalist Program Earns National Recognition

APNP Hospitalist Program at Ministry Eagle River Memorial Earns National Recognition

The program was one of four to be featured during a panel on healthcare innovation

Ministry Health Care’s Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APNP) Hospitalist Program was recognized as one of the country’s leading innovations in healthcare by the Catholic Health Association’s Global Lab for Health. The program was one of four initiatives across the nation to be highlighted during a panel discussion on innovation at the Catholic Health Assembly in Washington D.C. in June 2015. Ministry Health Care is a member of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and not-for-profit health system.

The program originated in 2013 at Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital (MERMH) in Eagle River, and recently expanded to Ministry Our Lady of Victory Hospital (MOLVH) in Stanley. The advanced practice nurse practitioners program allows APNPs to admit patients at Ministry Eagle River Memorial and Ministry Our Lady of Victory; critical access hospitals in rural communities. Under the program, APNPs act as a non-physician hospitalist at the two hospitals to ensure that patients in Eagle River and Stanley are able to receive care within their home community whenever possible. The APNPs receive 24/7 support from MD/DO hospitalists stationed at other Ministry hospitals. An advanced practice nurse practitioner has two additional years of post-graduate training.

John Almquist, MD, director, hospitalist services - Ministry Medical Group, represented Ministry Health Care during the Catholic Health Assembly in Washington D.C. in June. "We believe the program could be a sustainable solution for ensuring long-term access to inpatient care for rural communities, especially in light of the forecasted shortages of primary care physicians," he said.

To begin the process of utilizing APNP hospitalists, Ministry leaders determined the scope of acute illnesses a critical access hospital deals with on a day-to-day basis. The research determined the majority of admissions fell into 15 disease categories. Common diseases included pneumonia, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), alcohol withdrawal, urinary tract infection, atrial fibrillation, and delirium, among others. The expectation during the initial training for APNPs was to gain knowledge of these acute illnesses from an experienced hospitalist. Based on the overall success and demonstration of high quality of care at MERMH, Ministry leaders broadened the scope of practice to 25 acute illnesses.

The hospitalist pilot program uses the Ascension platform for telemedicine equipment to connect the APNP hospitalist in Eagle River and Stanley with a hospitalist in Rhinelander, Stevens Point or Weston. "The technology allows the patient in Eagle River to interact with the physician at Ministry Saint Mary’s as if they were in the room," said Laura Magstadt, director of nursing and operations, Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital. "The hospitalist in Rhinelander can listen to the patient’s heart, lung and bowel sounds, and also look in a patient’s ears or mouth to learn about their condition. It’s an exciting approach to connecting the patient and physician from different locations while providing inpatient care."

According to Robert Sookochoff, president, Ministry Medical Group, the program is revolutionizing the way hospitalists are utilized in rural communities. "This is the first time an APNP hospitalist has been supported by a regular hospitalist in another location," he said. "As we continue to grow the program, Ministry could provide hospitalist services to all of its Critical Access Hospitals. We see future opportunities at other critical access hospitals as well as extension of this concept to the outpatient/clinic environment."

Dr. Almquist and Dr. Sookochoff have received numerous inquiries from healthcare systems across the country to learn more about the APNP hospitalist program. To be considered for the honor, Ministry Health Care submitted the APNP hospitalist program to the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation, a challenge among CHA member organizations.

Published November 2015

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