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Nova Scotians will no longer be under the care of their family physician while in hospital as of Jan

The move by the Nova Scotia government is seen as a band-aid approach to alleviating some of the pressures that the health care system has been attempting to deal with in response to doctor shortages. Instead of your family doctor, you will be assigned a hospitalist to care for your needs while in hospital. Hospitalists are defined as doctors who are specialized in the care of patients in the hospital.

One patient at the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada was not altogether pleased with the decision when she was informed today. Since she suffers with Huntington's Disease, change can be difficult, and some with the disease can be very distrusting of someone new to care for them. However, the news was broken to her by her primary care physician who recognizes that HD is not a one size fits all disease and he assured her that he would consult with the hospitalist in regards to her history as well as her needs that are peculiar to her. The process of informing her was approached in a caring way, taking her feelings into consideration as well as those of her decision maker. However, it took some explaining when the physician left, to assure the patient that she would still be comfortable with her new doctor. Her regular physician assured her that he would still come in to check on her once per week as a courtesy, which helped tremendously.

Hospitalists are a relatively new trend in patient care and are being implemented not only to help alleviate a doctor shortage but for a number of reasons including:

  • Convenience Efficiency

  • Patient safety

  • Cost efficiency for hospitals

  • A need for more specialized and coordinated care for patients while in hospital

There are many advantages to patients as well as their families to implementing the hospitalist program. Hospitalists tend to have more expertise caring for more complicated patients, and since they are in the hospital everyday, they are available to families to ask questions. Hospitalists also tend to see patients more than once a day to monitor their condition.

Many Nova Scotians tend to have a close relationship with their doctors and may take awhile to get used to this new way of doing things but should take care in ln knowing that the primary care physician meets with the hospitalist upon admission to the hospital and again when being discharged. As patients we are our own best advocates, so take the time to ask questions and get to know your hospitalist, they are there for your benefit.

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