Paramedics—not just for emer­gen­cies any more

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

In Colorado’s Ea­gle County, para­medic Kevin Creek makes house calls to take elec­tro­car­dio­grams, check pa­tient pre­scrip­tions, check blood pres­sure, change dress­ings, draw blood and make other ob­ser­va­tions that used to re­quire a doc­tor’s visit.

He’s one of a se­lect group of paramedics in sev­eral states help­ing to pro­vide pri­mary health­care by mak­ing house calls—an ini­tia­tive en­cour- aged by the fed­eral health­care law to ad­dress short­ages in pri­mary care and cut down on ex­pen­sive vis­its to doc­tors and emer­gency rooms. (See re­lated story, Aug. 22, p. 28.)

“We all get into this be­cause of the adren­a­line rush,” Creek says of his ca­reer as a para­medic. “I’ve done the car ac­ci­dents. I’ve done the shoot­ings and the stab­bings. In­stead of tak­ing out the blood and guts, this is a move into pre­ven­ta­tive care, so peo­ple don’t have to call 911.”

Creek and a col­league par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pi­lot project through the Western Ea­gle County Am­bu­lance District work full time un­der the su­per­vi­sion of doc­tors who re­fer them to pa­tients. The doc­tors eval­u­ate in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the paramedics and de­cide the next steps of care.

The Com­mu­nity Para­medic Pro­gram is free for any­one in Ea­gle County, which has an unin­sured rate of 26%. But it is funded so far by $700,000 in grants from the Colorado health depart­ment, two pri­vate health or­ga­ni­za­tions and the am­bu­lance district, said district pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor Lisa Ward. “We’re the eyes and ears of the pri­mary-care physi­cian in the home,” she said. “It’s out-of-the-box health­care, and it’s the fu­ture.”

Colorado ap­proved the five-year pi­lot pro­gram to de­ter­mine how much money the state and fed­eral govern­ment might save in Medi­care and Med­i­caid spend­ing in the county, which has a pop­u­la­tion of about 52,000, many of them in ru­ral ar­eas.

Sev­eral states are ask­ing paramedics to broaden their du­ties with pri­mary-care house calls.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.