Dr. Addis sailing with his family
Hospitalist Christopher T. Addis, M.D., serves as Chair of the LGH Department of Medicine and Senior Physician Leader of Medical Specialties for LG Health Physicians. We asked Dr. Addis about his Department’s priorities, why he loves hospital medicine and the importance of setting personal goals.
What is your background?
I grew up on a horse farm in Chester County. My dad was a podiatrist. When our neighbors came to him with an injury, he always knew what to do. Driving antique carriages was one of our great passions, and we went to Lancaster often for supplies. In 1991, after I finished college and med school at Penn State and training in Massachusetts, my wife and I came back here to be close to family. We lived on a farm in Strasburg Township, with seven horses, a pack of beagles and two barn cats. When I joined Duke Street Medical Associates, it was like a Norman Rockwell experience. Over lunch we ran across the street to see patients in the hospital. We also did house calls. Our practice joined LG Health Physicians in 1997, and 10 years later, we split into Ambulatory Internal Medicine and LG Hospitalists.
Why did you choose internal medicine, and later, specifically hospital medicine?
I like understanding the “why,” and I don’t like feeling vulnerable. Knowing a little bit about everything means I can manage most things that come my way. I enjoy the intensity of hospital medicine and how it accelerates the physician-patient relationship. It often involves breaking bad news and making tough decisions, but that’s the good stuff for me. Medicine is a calling. Being ill and dying is a very human experience, and one where faith intersects with day-to-day life. We have the opportunity to touch someone’s soul. Sometimes that gets lost in technology. I try to make it as human as possible.
How did you get into a leadership role?
I’ve always had an interest in leadership. As Medical Director for the Hospitalists, I learned a lot about management and leadership. I also served as Division Chief for General Medicine. A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to earn my MBA from St. Joseph’s University with an LG Health cohort, which has been really helpful. The Chair role is a good fit for me. Through my longevity and highly visible role as a hospitalist, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people and build relationships across the continuum. I spend half of my time as Chair, and a quarter each on my SPL role and patient care. As a leader, it’s important to keep my clinical skills sharp. Medicine moves quickly, and keeping up with what’s new is not easy. Clinical care is the hardest part of my job but what I still really love.
What are your priorities for the Department of Medicine?
Medicine is the second-largest Department, with 374 members. I encourage my members to think bigger than themselves. I try to break down walls and connect dots with other Departments and Divisions and even outside the hospital. One example is our fragility fracture program, which involves Rheumatology and Orthopedics – from different Departments and Divisions – working together. We are also working on an outpatient diabetes prevention program. Both of these initiatives reflect good population health medicine. In addition, our longitudinal care planning work is improving access for high-demand specialties by returning more stable patients to their primary-care provider for follow-up.
What else do you enjoy about your work?
I enjoy being creative and figuring out how to make a good idea happen. One example is geographic rounding, which involves dedicating hospitalists exclusively to certain nursing units. This approach is more conducive to teamwork among providers and nursing staff, which improves efficiency. Hospitalists are trained to be very autonomous, and sometimes that can be lonely. Being part of a team nurtures conversation, problem-solving and critical thinking. It’s a more energizing environment, and it’s good for patient care too.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
We have three grown children, all of whom live in Philadelphia. When they went to college, we sold the farm and got into sailing. We have a little log cabin in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. It was built in 1923 and has one bedroom but sleeps 12. We try to get there five or six times a year. A few years ago, I realized I needed to set personal goals. I got into running and joined the F&M Track Club. It’s been really good for me. I’ve done a few half marathons, and I’m planning to run my first marathon in Philadelphia this fall.