CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) – The fire department in Carmel is the latest in central Indiana to start a new program through which they not only respond to emergencies, they work to prevent them.
The concept known as community paramedicine has grown across the country since the introduction of new Medicare rules through the Affordable Care Act. Hospitals are threatened with fines if patients make return visits within 30-days for the same condition.
Emergency responders in Indianapolis, Fishers and now Carmel have programs in place to cut down on 911 emergencies and repeat trips to the hospital by following up with patients who are more likely to make return trips.
Medics visit patient homes in the days after their release from the hospital to check vital signs, administer vaccines, confirm they’re taking medication correctly and even drive them to the pharmacy.
“It’s a lot like fire prevention that started back in the 1970s. We have a decrease in fire runs right now, we have an increase in EMS runs so it makes only sense to basically start an EMS prevention programs,” Carmel EMS chief Tom Small said.
Medics most commonly see the elderly, diabetics, and people with congestive heart failure, emphysema and substance abusers.
“There’s a lot of the population that doesn’t qualify for home health care or doesn’t qualify for some other special needs that some of the sicker patients get, so those are the ones that we see more often in the 911 realm. They continue to call 911 because that’s their only option,” Small said.
Carmel Fire Chief Matt Hoffman boasts successful results. He calculated since launching the program in July, only two of the roughly 100 patients medics have followed up with have called 911 again for the same issue.
The practice could save hospitals millions of dollars and one facility in Carmel has already expressed interest in signing with the fire department for the service. Hoffman said money paid in a partnership would fund operations instead of tax payer money.