NorthStar Establishing Community Paramedicine Pilot Project
Project targets vulnerable patients for visits by EMTs who make house calls
October 18, 2013
The Maine Emergency Medical Services Office has approved NorthStar’s plan to establish a community paramedicine pilot project called House Call that begins November 1. This pilot, along with 11 others in the state is a result of a bill signed into law in 2012.
The project targets vulnerable patients for visits by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics who make house calls to educate and reengage patients, monitor their condition, and if needed, provide treatment. Having EMTs perform these functions within patients’ homes help prevent emergency room and doctors visits, ambulance transport, and hospital admissions and readmissions.
Primary care doctors will refer patients to the program. They will generally be those who have been newly released from the hospital; those who have had a recent surgery; those who have multiple chronic conditions; and those with safety concerns in the home.
“For decades, emergency medical services have focused on being reactive: you call, we come,” said Michael Senecal, NorthStar director. “This new approach is proactive: we come so you don’t have to call. It is an approach that is especially applicable in rural areas such as ours and NorthStar has the resources and often the time to visit patients in their home between emergency calls.” Senecal added that former NorthStar Director David Robie was a champion of the model and advocated for Maine to adopt the approach.
Services that can be administered in patients’ homes include vital signs, wound care, hypertension monitoring, diabetes management, medication management, ear and nose complaints, flu vaccinations, and potential fall assessments, among others. A record of the visit and services provided will be reported back to the referring physician.
Seventeen NorthStar EMTs have been selected to participate in the House Call program and will complete a nine-hour training before the program starts. Dr. Jay Naliboff serves as the House Call medical director and will act as a liaison to physician practices in the area. He will work with Dr. Steve Zanella, NorthStar’s medical director, to ensure that providers are maintaining the integrity of the service.
Senecal said that currently there is no provision for reimbursement for a community paramedicine program and the cost will be absorbed into the NorthStar operating budget. In the long term, community paramedicine costs should be offset by savings in transport, hospital admissions, and doctor visits. In study after study community paramedicine has proven to save money in the community.
Senecal believes that in time, community paramedicine will lead to new levels of training, licensure, and protocols for EMTs that will evolve into national training curriculums followed by national testing through the licensure levels: basic, intermediate, and paramedic.
For additional information call Senecal at 779-2400.
Subscribe to our RSS news feed