By Karen Gorby
President/Chief Nursing Officer, Angel Medical Center
This month I’d like to talk about the fundamental role that teamwork plays in providing care to this community at Angel Medical Center (AMC). This is because we use a collaborative model of care for patients: the care team. The care team concept and its increasing use developed over the last few decades as healthcare facilities started depending less on physicians and nurses solely to provide care to patients. I want to introduce readers to the care team members who they will encounter at AMC and explain what they do.
Presently, a patient’s primary care provider (PCP) does not follow them once they’re admitted to the hospital, but physicians called hospitalists take over a patient’s care during their hospital stay. They track the patient’s progress during their hospitalization and provide key information to the patient’s PCP so they are completely apprised of the patient’s inpatient experience. The PCP can then ensure that all future care is based on the most up-to-date understanding of their patient’s medical history and condition.
A new level of advanced practitioner has also emerged and complemented the work being performed by physicians and nurses. Nurse practitioners (NPs or CRNAs) and physician assistants (PAs) receive graduate-level medical training and do everything from diagnosing illnesses and creating care plans to writing prescriptions and ordering tests. PAs are trained within a more medical, general framework and work with our hospitalists to treat inpatients, while NPs focus on each patient’s physical and mental health and provide specialty care, such as pediatric or oncology care. Physicians supervise these team members’ work, and now we see both NPs and PAs working with patients in the Primary Clinic, our Mission My Care Now clinic and our emergency department. CRNAs also work in our surgical services department. The presence of these care team members is now common in most hospitals, and their care allows patients to be seen more quickly and receive more focused individual attention.
Many rural hospitals have a challenge recruiting physicians, and advanced practitioners are even more important to delivering exceptional care because of this. They’re highly skilled team members who possess a level of expertise that allows them to provide care that is on par with a physician’s. In essence, advanced practitioners improve access to care for patients and allow patients more time for appointments. In fact, I recently needed to schedule a doctor’s appointment and when I learned that I’d need to wait more than a month to see a physician, I decided to take an appointment with my doctor’s PA and be seen within the week. I received excellent care.
Every care team member at AMC and in our network provides important and differentiated services, expertise and treatment. This is what we mean when we talk about treating the “whole patient,” and patients – who are the consumers in the healthcare equation – are indeed the beneficiaries of this newer, more all-encompassing model. At AMC we pride ourselves on providing the safest, most efficient and compassionate care possible, and our care teams are the primary catalysts for that.
Karen S. Gorby, RN, MSN, MBA, CENP, FACHE, is the President/Chief Nursing Officer of Angel Medical Center. Gorby is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). For nearly three decades, she has served hospitals and health systems in Ohio before assuming her role at Angel Medical Center. Gorby received her MSN from Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, and her MBA from Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio.