SARANAC LAKE - Although it is one of the fastest growing fields in medicine, few people may know what a Hospitalist is or even does.
A Hospitalist is an acute-care physician that cares for patients in the hospital, and does so from admission to discharge.
Dr. Frank Nocilla, who has been hired to develop and oversee the Hospitalist Program at AMC, best describes a Hospitalist as someone who specializes in inpatient medicine. While not currently seen as such, Dr. Nocilla says it won't be long before Hospitalists are a widely-recognized medical specialty such as Cardiology.
AMC is fortunate to have Dr. Nocilla, who has significant experience overseeing Hospitalist Programs. In fact, the program he is establishing at AMC will be his fourth. Dr. Nocilla will be responsible for admitting critical or emergency care patients and those patients without a physician. He will also be caring for patients admitted to the hospital who are seen by AMC-employed physicians at the medical center's three primary care clinics in Keene, Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, in addition to residents of AMC's nursing homes in Lake Placid and Tupper Lake. It is expected that as the Hospitalist Program becomes established, this will expand to the private practices in the area, if they so desire.
Drawing upon that experience, Dr. Nocilla points out that inpatient care requires different skill sets, particularly with intensive care patients. The success of the program depends in large part on the sharing of information between the hospital and the patient's regular physician.
"Communication is actually the key to a successful Hospitalist Program," said Dr. Nocilla.
There are a variety of benefits for the patient, physicians, and hospital associated with a Hospitalist Program.
In most cases, the patient's length of stay in the hospital can be shortened due to the immediate availability of the Hospitalist on staff during the day. There is no wait for patients to be admitted by their physician, and the Hospitalist can immediately begin a treatment plan, such as ordering lab tests or medications. Should there be questions, family members of a patient will benefit from the availability of the Hospitalist. In the long run, a shorter recovery time allows patients to leave the hospital sooner, and if needed, continue recovery in a more familiar and comfortable setting such as their home.
For all physicians, the Hospitalist frees them up to see more patients in their offices since they no longer have to split their time between the clinic and the hospital. This is a double benefit for the patient whose appointment may have been cancelled because the physician had to admit or check on a patient in the hospital. Overall, these factors contribute to physician recruitment, which is a significant challenge for rural hospitals.
Dr. Nocilla also believes the Hospitalist is a good source of information for the nursing staff and other medical staff members when it comes to caring for the inpatient population at the hospital.
The Hospitalist Program at AMC will be the fourth that Dr. Nocilla has started. He is board certified in Internal Medicine with the American Board of Physician Specialists and board certified in Disaster Medicine. Dr. Nocilla received his undergraduate degree from St. John's University, and his Medical Degree from St. George's University School of Medicine. He completed his residency at Albany Medical Center.
Most recently, Dr, Nocilla has been working in the Emergency Department at AMC since June of this year, and has worked for primary care clinics in Wilton and Massena, N.Y. His extensive background includes duty as a Flight Surgeon and Critical Air Transport Team Physician with the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Dr. Nocilla has worked in the Emergency Department at the Stratton VA Hospital in Albany. He has served in several hospitals in New York, including Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, Glens Falls Hospital in Glens Falls, as well as Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart, Fla.
Dr. Nocilla's official start date as Hospitalist for AMC is Jan. 6, 2009.