You’re a what? Is that a doctor?

The Medical PerspectivePerhaps one of Dr. Ben Thompson’s biggest challenges is explaining what he does.

Dr. Thompson is one of 10 hospitalists at Western Baptist Hospital. Although hospitalists have served our patients since 2009, it’s still not a word that rolls off the tongue for most western Kentuckians.

That’s OK. Dr. Thompson is one of us – a hometown guy.


Dr. Thompson, tennis star A hometown guy

He’s a graduate of Lone Oak High School, where he reigned as regional tennis champion for four consecutive years in the late 90s. He went to college and medical school at the University of Kentucky and ventured outside the state only for his internal medicine residency at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. As soon as it ended, he and wife Melanie, his high school sweetheart, headed home to join the hospitalist program in 2010.

Thompson family

So, as the hometown guy you may see at church or elsewhere in the community, he could tell you the role of the hospitalist.

But his patients are probably more impressed by the attention they get from him than by the explanation of the unfamiliar term. To them, he is just their doctor.

“The most common compliment I get is about our availability,” he said.

What is a hospitalist?

As a hospitalist, he is a board certified internal medicine physician who chooses to practice medicine only in the hospital. He doesn’t see patients in an office.

“I am able to focus my entire day on the care and treatment for my hospitalized patients.  It is not uncommon for me to check on a patient two or three times a day, especially those critically ill patients who need frequent adjustments in their care based upon real-time test results and consultant recommendations.” 

Hospitalists care for patients who don’t have a doctor or whose doctor is not on staff at the hospital. Patients may come in through the Emergency department or be transferred here from another hospital.

When the patient is ready to leave Western Baptist, the hospitalist shares information about the patient with their doctor or refers him or her to a primary care physician for ongoing care.

Here for patients and families

They work 12-hour shifts, so they are here when needed, such as on a recent weekend afternoon, when an emergency code was announced for a critical patient. “Most of the practicing physicians had already made their rounds and were out of the hospital when the call was made.”

Dr. Thompson was here, and if he hadn’t been, one of his fellow hospitalists would have been.

“I really believe this immediate access and constant availability improves patient care and patient outcomes. Being part of this hospitalist group, with others who share the same goal of providing efficient, comprehensive and evidence-based care, is a role that we all take a great deal of pride in.”

Get to know Dr. Thompson better in this video.

About Baptist Health Paducah

Baptist Health Paducah is a regional medical and referral center, serving about 200,000 patients a year from four states. With more than 1,800 employees and 200 physicians, it offers a full range of services, including cardiac and cancer care, diagnostic imaging, women’s and children’s services, surgery, emergency treatment, rehabilitation and more. Since its humble beginning in 1953, Baptist Health Paducah has grown from 117 beds to 349 beds on a campus covering eight square blocks.
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