Pamela Vnenchak, M.D.
Pamela A. Vnenchak, M.D., chairs the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Lancaster General Hospital. We asked Dr. Vnenchak about the department’s current priorities and challenges.
What is your background and current role with LG Health?
I grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Elizabethtown College. After New Jersey Medical School, I joined the LGH Family Medicine Residency Program, where I was chief resident. I practiced in New Hampshire and taught residents in upstate New York for seven years before joining our residency faculty in 2000. I’ve chaired the department for about two years.
I currently see patients two half-days a week at LG Health Physicians Family & Maternity Medicine. My particular interests are women’s health and maternity care. I teach with our residency program three half-days per week. The rest of my time is spent on my chair duties, which include co-chairing the Medicine Clinical Effectiveness Committee and the Pulmonary Work Group.
What are some of the challenges you face as Chair of Family & Community Medicine?
We have a very large, diverse department of over 200 physician and APP members, including about 100 with active privileges at LGH and Women & Babies Hospital. Our members do everything from maternity care to sports medicine to inpatient care. And while more family physicians are employed, we also have a large group of independent practices. Our department wants to effectively communicate with and engage our members, so we can address all of their needs and concerns.
How does Family & Community Medicine collaborate with other departments?
LG Health has 34 family physicians who provide maternity care (29 percent of physician members), which is a comparatively high number to the national average of 10 percent. For family physicians, maternity care is part of the patient’s life cycle. We can manage normal to low-risk deliveries and collaborate with our OB or maternal-fetal colleagues for high-risk pregnancies.
We work with our OB colleagues to ensure that all maternity-care providers practice in the same safe, evidence-based manner. We meet regularly to develop care pathways and share best practices. Family & Community Medicine also collaborates frequently with Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.
What is your department’s role in improving transitions of care and reducing readmissions?
We are working with our inpatient colleagues on timely discharge summaries and follow-up appointments in the primary-care office, as well as coordinating changes in medications. We know that the most likely time for a readmission is around Day 3. We also are working to better understand diagnoses with a particularly high risk for readmission, such as sepsis and COPD. This work directly supports LG Health’s current quality goal.
How is Family & Community Medicine working to address burnout?
Stress and burnout are huge issues for all physicians. Our department leaders want to listen and be aware of our members’ concerns and look at ways to decrease administrative burden. We know that for every four hours spent seeing patients, a family physician will spend an additional two hours on administrative work, often late at night.
What sets the LGH residency program apart?
We continue to attract bright, strong medical students from across the country. We offer 13 areas of concentration, including HIV care, sports medicine, integrative medicine and maternity care. The opportunity to focus on a particular area of interest positions our residents well for a fellowship or leadership role. That’s just one reason our program is special.
What do you like most about your job?
Every day is different. I love the diversity and variety of family medicine, and especially the continuity of care. I also really enjoy teaching. In my administrative role, I enjoy working with colleagues and leaders from many different specialties. I’m proud that this hospital really values physician leadership, and we have a good number of family physicians in leadership positions.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Our four children -- a 23-year-old son and 20-year-old triplets – are now all working or at school. Having some free time is a new thing for me. I like to read and do crafts. You’ll often see me knitting during meetings. I don’t sit still very well, and it helps me pay attention.