'Paramedicine' May Help People Avoid ER
Two southern Illinois organizations have partnered to develop a new “community paramedicine” program. The Center for Rural Health & Social Service Development at Southern Illinois University Medicine and SSM Good Samaritan Regional Health Center in Mt. Vernon say a community paramedicine program could prevent unnecessary emergency department visits and reduce the likelihood a patient must return to the hospital for care. A one-year, $100,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) – Federal Office of Rural Health Policy is funding the program’s research and development phase.
Community paramedicine programs have gained popularity in recent years as health care and emergency medical services are asked to deliver higher levels of care with decreasing financial resources. In southern Illinois, community paramedics will be tasked with delivering better care coordination and in-home clinical monitoring of patients, as well as providing community resource referrals, including home health care and social services.
The group hopes to help residents better manage chronic illnesses, including diabetes, COPD, high blood pressure and heart disease. According to the 2016 County Health Rankings, southern Illinois is home to some of the state’s – and nation’s, highest rates of chronic disease. Coupled with the region’s aging population, high poverty rates and scarce medical resources, experts describe the region’s health status as “dismal.”
“The need for new interventions and for collective thinking and planning among health care stakeholders in the region is clearly demonstrated in the county health rankings, which demonstrate the health jeopardy in which the residents of this region live,” said Network Director Dennis Presley, SIU Medicine Center for Rural Health & Social Service Development. “Meaningful interventions like a community paramedicine program give me hope that this oppressive trend can be reversed.”
Five health care systems, including Clay County Hospital, Fairfield Memorial Hospital, Crawford Memorial Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital (Vincennes, Ind), and SSM Good Samaritan Regional Health Center, and five ambulance services, including those from Robinson, Fairfield, Mt. Vernon, Lawrenceville and Flora, have already joined the new Southern Illinois Collaborative for Innovative Care Coordination (SICICC) network.
In Fall 2018, the network will submit a new proposal to HRSA in hopes of receiving funding to help implement the community paramedicine program.
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