In the flourishing metropolitan area of Atlanta, hospitalists and community-based physicians at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta thrive within their niches, riding waves of opportunity fueled by the region’s burgeoning population. Jay Berkelhamer, MD, senior vice president of medical affairs at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta calls his city “one of the most dynamic growth centers in the United States. Within 10 years we are estimated to have at least 150,000 more kids in Atlanta, leading to even greater opportunities for hospitalists and private practice primary care and specialty pediatricians.”
Two Hospitals, One system
Children’s Hospital of Atlanta’s hospitalist program is, in fact, two separate programs: one at Egleston, the other at Scottish Rite. The parent organization links the two and manages each hospital’s mission, structure, hiring, compensation, and outcomes.
In my office practice I’d be sitting 20 feet away from a colleague, and there wasn’t much interaction. Now I’m learning something new every day and discussing interesting patients with other doctors. Building these ongoing relationships is great.
—David Hall, MD
The six Egleston full-time equivalent hospitalists, or “cat herders,” as Corinne Taylor, MD, Egleston’s chief of medical affairs, describes them, are employees of Emory University Medical School. Most Egleston hospitalists are parents of young children and work four days a week, allowing them a balance of career and family life. Employed by the medical school and working at an academic medical center, they receive a salary, benefits, and other support services. Side by side with interns and residents, Egleston’s hospitalists see Atlanta’s sickest, frailest, and most at-risk children: the uninsured, underinsured immigrant and local population.
At Egleston the pediatric hospitalists are like their counterparts who treat adult patients in other settings. They deal with many patients with chronic conditions that lead to repeat hospitalizations.
“We see lots of ex-preemies with multiple problems such as asthma, seizures, cerebral palsy, and gastric problems,” says Dr. Taylor. “Some are ventilator-dependent and need lots of care.”
She relishes the clinical discipline that being a hospitalist at an academic medical center presents. “I do my homework every day and enjoy the stimulation of teaching our house officers,” explains Dr. Taylor. “Working with adult learners on the chronic conditions we manage and the cases with puzzling symptoms is exciting.”
Dr. Taylor’s boss is this hospitalist program’s founder, Joseph Snitzer, MD (see “Joseph Snitzer, MD: A hospital medicine pioneer”). Being hospital-based frees Dr. Snitzer to observe an endless parade of clinical challenges, including complex rheumatology cases, lupus, tumors, infected shunts, seizures, exotic infections, oncology diagnoses, and more.
“People call us from rural hospitals and private practices for help with diagnoses,” explains Dr. Snitzer. “We’re not smarter than anyone else. We just see a lot more than most other physicians.”