Hospitalization has been headline news during the pandemic. So, what’s it like to be in the hospital – whatever your illness or injury?
At Northfield Hospital, your care is led by hospitalists, doctors who specialize in hospital care. Northfield Hospital’s seven hospitalists are family practice and internal medicine doctors with additional expertise in high-acuity care – everything from recovery after surgery to injuries to heart attacks, respiratory illness, infectious disease.
Our hospitalists lead a multi-discipline team that brings a range of expertise to tailor your care for your best healing in the hospital, and later at home.
They also use leading-edge technology to bring specialists across the region to your bedside.
“Northfield Hospital has a unique combination of personalized care, plus connectivity to specialists, plus an on-site multidisciplinary team that can round on patients several times a day,” says Dr. Stephanie Erickson, Medical Director of hospitalist care at NH+C.
Before the pandemic began, “we were comfortable taking care of patients who were moderately ill, and we transferred patients who needed specialty care,” Dr. Erickson says. “During COVID surges, those beds and specialists were full, and there was no place to send patients. Like many community hospitals, our physicians, nurses, and staff came together to take care of sicker patients than we were used to. We were put to the test. It was daunting, but also rewarding. We realized we have this skill set. Caring for these seriously ill patients has given us experience and confidence that we are giving cutting-edge care.”
Hospitalists have been the standard of care for a decade. Before then, primary care doctors would round on their patients once a day. Hospitalizations were longer, because the doctor’s attention was spread out over many days. Now, the team rounds each morning when they can order tests, change medications, increase therapy; then they round again as needed to review test results, discuss discharge plans, and talk with patients’ families. “The time intensity of your care increases,” Dr. Erickson explains. “We can address your problems in a shorter timeframe.”
Your bedside care team
Northfield Hospital is unique in providing MD-level care for every hospital and Emergency Department patient. “From the moment you’re evaluated in the Emergency Department throughout your hospital stay, you will see an MD,” Dr. Erickson says. That’s rare: Most hospitals rely on nurse practitioners and advance care providers for some phases of care.
Our multi-discipline team gets the full picture of what you need in the hospital – and at home. Your care team might include surgeons, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, and social workers in addition to nursing staff. The team meets with each patient every weekday, and each team member gives advice. “We get such valuable input from each team member – a physical therapist might say ‘this patient has trouble getting from bed to the bathroom’ or a pharmacist might say ‘this medication may cause this side effect; here’s a better choice,’” Dr. Erickson explains. “This gives the hospitalist valuable information” to decide if the patient is ready to go home, and what support they might need at home. (The team works with NH+C Home Care for skilled nursing, PT and OT at home, as needed.)
It's efficient to get every expert’s input at the same time. It’s also more effective. “We know patients are more comfortable at home, and we understand that the care doesn’t stop when you leave here,” Dr. Erickson says. “We can prevent readmissions, and increase the value of the hospital stay. If you’re here for 24 hours, you may have seen two MDs, a dietitian, an occupational therapist, and a social worker. It’s easier for us to coordinate that care than in big facilities.”
The result: “You get the right kind of care at the right time.”
You get more personalized care, too. For example, rather than simply including a prescription in your discharge packet, our care team will coordinate with your insurance on prior authorization for the medicine, explain to your insurer why the doctor chose this medication, or find a suitable alternative to help manage your out-of-pocket costs.
Your care team across the region
Partnerships and technology let NH+C bring the best in regional care to your hospital room.
As an independent hospital, NH+C has partnerships that bring the best quality care from specialists across the region. Partners include Minneapolis Heart Institute, Hennepin Health, Mayo Clinic and Allina.
“I like being able to tell a patient, ‘While I’m not a cardiologist, I have spoken with a cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute, and this is the care they advise,’” Dr. Erickson says.
If a Northfield Hospital patient needs an echocardiogram, Minneapolis Heart Institute sends a sonographer who does the ultrasound right in the patient’s room and transmits the images to Minneapolis. “Within 30 minutes, I’m talking with the cardiologist as he’s looking at images of the patient’s heart – and the patient has never left their hospital room in Northfield. That’s revolutionary,” Dr. Erickson says. “The information flows back and forth.”
It flows far and fast, too: CT scans, MRIs, x-rays can be shared with any specialist, anywhere. Electronic medical records make up-to-the-minute diagnostic data and patient assessments easy to share.
“With the tools we have now – real-time imaging that can be shared, real-time sharing of medical records – plus the culture of personalized care, we’re proud to be providing world-class hospital care that’s equal to our peers in the Twin Cities and Rochester,” Dr. Erickson says.
Dr. Erickson joined NH+C in early 2020, just as the pandemic began. She spent eight years in the Air Force, providing all kinds of medical care (including on the front lines in Afghanistan). That, plus a background in rural medicine, taught her to adapt medical care to the setting. It also gave her a breadth of experience, from delivering babies to Emergency Room triage. At Northfield Hospital, “I get to take care of patients on a daily basis and have a leadership role where I can effect meaningful change.”
The future beyond pandemic
Some of the experience, skills and confidence earned during pandemic will influence hospital care going forward. That includes post-hospital care.
“I think we’ll see a time where your hospital-level care at home is just as important as your time in the hospital,” Dr. Erickson says. “Picture going home, and then within 24 hours having video visit with the hospitalist team as you transition to your primary care provider. We know how you were doing 24 hours ago in the hospital. We can look you over, take your blood pressure, review your medications, make sure you’re progressing back to your best health.”
It’s the best in hospital care, close – very close – to home.