The hospitalist: Practicing the art and the science of medicine

Board-certified in internal medicine, Herman Lyle, M.D., appreciates the art and the science of medicine.

Most of the time – he estimates 90 percent of the time – a diagnosis is pretty cut and dried. It’s the other 10 percent – where the physician must analyze, research and sometimes just follow his gut – he finds most interesting.

“I had a patient once that I felt pretty certain had a very rare and unusual blood disease. He went to Washington University and then to Johns Hopkins, and they told him he didn’t have it. It wasn’t until he went to Mayo Clinic that they told him his doctor back home was right, he did have it and they were able to treat it to save his life.”

Dr. Lyle was able to continue seeing the patient after the life-saving treatment. “It was very gratifying, knowing we’d worked and worked with him and stuck with it until the correct diagnosis was made.”

That’s the kind of determination you find among the hospitalists at Western Baptist. A 30-year veteran physician, Dr. Lyle is one of 10 hospitalists who treats patients admitted to the hospital without a doctor or whose doctor is not on staff. When those patients go home, they return to the care of their hometown physician.

The hospitalists are specialists in hospital medicine. Dr. Lyle was in private practice 26 years before becoming a hospitalist in Marion, Ill. He graduated from Emory University School of Medicine and completed his internal medicine residency at Louisiana State.

The hospitalist’s unique work schedule – work seven 12-hour shifts, then off for a week – allows Dr. Lyle to work at Western Baptist. He and wife Valerie still live near Marion, Ill. After she retired recently as an elementary and junior high science teacher, she completed her Ed.D. and now works as a national education consultant in curriculum mapping.

She also tends their latest hobby, 10 chickens she has raised since they were a day old. “We live on a 68-acre farm, but we don’t farm. We just started tending the chickens last year for the eggs to eat.”

He is able to work one week in Paducah and then spend a week at the farm, reading biographies and history, and getting a little exercise swimming in an indoor pool at a nearby college. When they are able to get away, they head west to see their sons – a Navy veteran physician in Billings, Montana, and a computer engineer in Fort Collins, Colo.

But when he’s at the hospital, he’s here for the full 12-hour shift, seeing patients and consulting with specialists.

“Hospital medicine is so complex that our specialty is growing more and more popular. For years, I had sent patients to Western Baptist to the specialists here. I’m very impressed with this program, where we have all of the subspecialties covered, and happy to be a part of it. We see some really sick patients, and we can help most of them get better.”

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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