Dan Hale, MD, FAAP, started to seriously consider a career in medicine while in college. A summer job as a camp counselor helped convince him he’d found his calling.
“I realized how much I enjoyed spending time with children,” says Dr. Hale, who began his two-year Team Hospitalist term in May. “Everything is new for them, and they bring the joy of life to everything they do. That’s when I really began thinking about pediatrics.”
After residency, he joined the staff at Intermed Pediatrics in Portland, Maine. He split his time seeing patients in the office and in the hospital. Within three years, he made the transition to HM.
“Once I was exposed to hospitals, I knew that’s where I wanted to be,” says Dr. Hale, a pediatric hospitalist with Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and medical director of Floating’s pediatric hospitalist program at Lawrence (Mass.) General Hospital.
“I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this new field of pediatric hospital medicine,” he adds. “There is humongous potential for change, and I’m excited about what those of us in the hospital can do to improve healthcare.”
Floating Hospital has outreach programs at four community hospitals. How do those programs work?
If a child is very sick and requires a pediatric intensive care unit, they go to Boston to the Floating Hospital PICU. But because pediatric hospitalists from Floating staff these four other sites 24 hours a day, there is always someone there to see these patients in hopes of keeping them in their own community.
What is the biggest advantage of those affiliations?
In pediatric medicine, even more than adult medicine, it’s a family affair. It’s a big deal if a family has to drive over an hour into the city to get a child medical care. It can be a foreign environment and families have to find a place to stay. Floating’s philosophy is to provide optimal care for pediatric patients wherever they are. It’s a very unique solution to modern healthcare.
What types of care can Lawrence General provide now that it couldn’t prior to its affiliation with Floating Hospital?
Asthma and bronchiolitis are very common pediatric illnesses in winter, and they require very close monitoring. The hospitalists’ presence helps us keep those patients in the community hospital.
Can you quantify how many more patients are at Lawrence General?
Since starting the program in January, we decreased transfers for common pediatric conditions by 50%—from 10 pediatric transfers a month, on average, to about five per month.
Each community hospital’s pediatric HM program has its own medical director. Do you work with each other?
We work very closely together. Because every hospital is different, we learn from each other. We see what works and what doesn’t work at each site, and we build on that.
Can you give an example of how that network has improved the quality of care?
We have an asthma protocol developed by Floating Hospital for Children, and it was instituted at one of the community sites. It worked so well, we adopted a similar program at Lawrence General. It’s a perfect example of tailoring something that works well at one hospital to fit your patients’ needs rather than reinventing the wheel.