CarolinaEast Medical Center Community Paramedic Program Services

Walter (not his real name) started noticing changes in his wife’s behavior several months ago, which caused him to worry about her health.

“She started to lose control of her faculties,” he said. “Getting up and going into the kitchen, walking has become more and more difficult.”

Then she started to fall. When Walter, 70, couldn’t help his wife for nearly 50 years, he called 911 for help from paramedics and firefighters. The frequency of these calls and hospitalizations caught the attention of his local fire chief, who recommended that Walter contact the community paramedic program at CarolinaEast Medical Center, who was less than a year old.

Community paramedic Chris Henry made a home visit to visit Walter and his wife, assessed the situation and made arrangements for appropriate care.

“This guy is amazing,” Walter said. “He has a big picture of the whole picture and he can say what needs to be done. He was calling my wife’s attending physician. He spoke to my wife’s psychiatrist. He spoke to people about emergencies. He followed her progress throughout this and stepped in where he could and helped her, plenty of time.

As a result, Walter’s wife is now receiving treatment in the hospital. Although Henry does not provide practical treatment, he is in contact with various providers, Walter said.

“He saw the forest for the trees,” Walter said. “He’s seen it all, from the home front to the hospital front.”

While Henry is the hospital’s only community paramedic, serving a dozen patients across Craven, Jones and Pamlico counties, he said he relied on a team that included primary care physicians, specialists, hospital, emergency medical systems and social systems. to provide referrals and help.

“Its main objective is to identify these patients and to help those who fall through the cracks of the EMS system in general,” he said. “Patients who become heavy users or end up being admitted multiple times in a year are referred to me so that I can go see them and help them resolve the issues that lead to those readmissions and this dependence on the 911 system or the department. emergency.”

Henry said he was helping these patients address social determinants of health such as lack of healthy food, transportation and access to their medications by connecting them with the appropriate resources, educating them about their conditions and referring them to specialist care providers if necessary.

It also treats any acute symptoms that might occur in patients to help them avoid readmission to hospital. Henry specializes in heart failure and helps patients overcome problems such as water balance, which can overload the heart and prevent them from walking or lying down to sleep.

“If I intervene on them early and help them with that, then we can avoid a hospital admission,” he said. “There is a proven link with increased mortality in heart failure patients with the highest number of readmissions. Anytime we can prevent them from needing to be admitted, the better quality of life they will have and the longer life they will have will be.

Henry can sometimes treat patients with asthma and emphysema with medication he provides them or, if necessary, have patients seen earlier by their primary care physician.

“A lot of these things are exactly what these patients struggle with – getting the right care in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I help them know when and where to go when they start having problems.”

These measures are good for the patient, the hospital and the community, Henry said.

In the six months since the program began, Henry has seen approximately 20 patients. All have seen at least a 98% reduction in 911 use and hospital use, he said, and there has been no readmission for heart failure among his patients.

“It’s very similar to the old method of the home doctor who would come to your house and help you with that,” Henry said. “For me, it’s kind of a mix between social work, clinical care, home health and helping them figure out how to use these things to improve what they’re going through.”

About the Community Paramedic Program

· The program is funded by a $ 287,000 Duke Endowment grant to the CarolinaEast Foundation.

· Patients incur no charge for the service and no medical insurance qualification is required.

The paramedic will contact you within 72 hours of your referral, either by phone or in person if you are in the hospital.

· Paramedic visits are scheduled in advance and last one to two hours.

For more information call 252-670-1743

Source: CarolinaEast Medical Center

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