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River Hospital adds hospitalist to staff

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — Recent years of success at River Hospital now may be shown through an initiative the board of directors has taken on: a hospitalist program.

Albeit small, the program has one hospitalist who was hired recently to help the Fuller Street hospital improve patient flow.

“We’ve never had one before, and when Dr. Troy Johnson got here in June we looked at future needs with him,” CEO Ben Moore III said. “Dr. Johnson’s in the emergency room, and it’d be helpful to have someone like a hospitalist to improve our inpatient services. With a hospitalist, we could do more service to patients here versus a transfer.”

Hospitalists serve admitted patients in the hospital who don’t have a primary-care physician or they work in partnership with a patient’s primary-care physician.

Dr. Alfredo Torres, the hospitalist, began work in December. He will care primarily for patients admitted to the hospital and patients seen in the observation unit and River Hospital Convenient Care.

Dr. Torres came to River Hospital from Kaleida Health, Buffalo. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, and a surgical internship at Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, Cooperstown, after graduating from medical school at University of Rochester. According to a River Hospital news release, Dr. Torres holds memberships in the American College of Physicians, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Society of Hospital Medicine and the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

Mr. Moore said that without the extra help, the hospital wouldn’t be able to handle the scope of services and patients would have to be transferred to another hospital.

He said the hospital had struggled financially over the past several years and in 2010 closed its skilled-nursing department because the hospital would have lost more money keeping that service open.

Throughout the past 2 years, River Hospital has worked toward increasing outpatient volume and expanding services to increase revenues. While still facing some struggles of third-party reimbursements and other financial worries, the hospital has been in much better shape lately, Mr. Moore said.

There were 7,482 patient visits in the emergency room in 2011 and 8,000 in 2012. The hospital’s inpatient volume was 1,628 for 2011, and 1,885 for 2012.

“We’re very optimistic,” Mr. Moore said. “We have another family medicine doctor joining us in February to go along with the partial hospitalist program. We wanted to increase our ability to admit inpatients, and we’re doing that now. We wanted to get into mental health. All those elements are things the board wanted us to accomplish.”

“We’re trying to be as robust as we can,” Mr. Moore said. “We’re far better off than we were two years ago.”

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