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Health Team

Program provides rural hospitals with big-city medical care

Posted October 24, 2013

— People living in rural areas of the state often have a long way to travel for care at major medical centers.

Now, in some communities, such as Harnett County, similar services are close by – thanks to a partnership with WakeMed.

Only 10 months old, Central Harnett Hospital is an acute care facility in Lillington - with 24/7 emergency care and many surgical services. Its older sister facility, Betsy Johnson Hospital in Dunn, offers much the same, plus maternity care.

Both are part of the WakeMed Hospitalist program.

"We manage and take care of the patient while they're here, and when they're discharged, we send them back to their primary doctor," said Dr. Christopher Stewart, a hospitalist working with Harnett Health System.

Hospitalists in the Harnett Health System are employed by WakeMed and work primarily in the two county hospitals, but they also rotate at WakeMed Raleigh and WakeMed Cary.

"It allows patients to have a degree of confidence that it's the same doctors in Lillington as it would be in Raleigh," said Dr. Wallace Horne, Harnett Health's vice president of medical affairs.

The hospitalists know different specialists at WakeMed in Raleigh and call them anytime for consultation on individual cases.

It's that continuity of care that makes this facility feel and look like a major, big-city hospital.

Most major hospitals are establishing similar ties with smaller community hospitals. The efforts allow patients to receive sophisticated medical services right in their own backyard.

It also takes some of the patient load pressures off of the bigger hospitals.

Harnett County patients can still travel to Raleigh if they'd like.

"It's their choice, but why would you drive to Raleigh when you can come locally and receive the same care by the same doctors?" Horne said.

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