Shawnee Mission Medical Center starts OB hospitalist program

Kansas City Business Journal
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Shawnee Mission Medical CenterTo pad its lead in the maternity market, Shawnee Mission Medical Center said Monday that it has launched the area’s first obstetrics hospitalist program.

Hospitalists are physicians who treat only hospital patients and work either for hospitals or practices that contract to see patients for other doctors.

The four obstetrics hospitalists at Shawnee Mission Medical Center are employed by the hospital and are all board-certified obstetricians. At least one of the doctors will be at the hospital continuously to improve quality and safety at the facility’s Special Addition Birth Center.

The Special Addition Birth Center delivers more than 3,200 babies a year, the most in the Kansas City area.

“Only a handful of hospitals throughout the country report having employed OB hospitalists,” Shawnee Mission Medical Center said in a release.

The Merriam hospital’s OB hospitalists are available to care for traditional maternity patients, as well as those who are admitted through the emergency department. The hospitalists also provide assistance to other doctors of obstetrics and gynecology.

“OB hospitalists are not here to replace the relationship patients have already established with their physician,” Dr. Kristen Wootton, one of the hospitals at Shawnee Mission, said in the release. “Instead, we are an extra set of hands to assist other physician colleagues. If they are busy seeing patients in the office or are with another laboring patient, we can examine their patient or perform tests, and then report back to the physician. In addition, OB hospitalists can assist with deliveries and Cesarean sections, or even perform the delivery if the physician is unable to make it to the hospital in time.”

The addition of OB hospitalists has also enabled women desiring to have a vaginal birth after a previous Cesarean section to deliver at Shawnee Mission. Traditionally, few hospitals have allowed this practice, as constant physician monitoring is necessary due to the many risks involved.

“More and more female physicians are entering the field of obstetrics, but also desire to have a family and children of their own,” Deb Ohnoutka, Shawnee Mission’s administrative director of women’s and children’s services, said in the release. “The OB hospitalist program allows them to remain in the profession, but without the unpredictable hours.”

Shawnee Mission’s OB hospitalists typically work about two 24-hour shifts each week, without the requirement to take calls during off hours.

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