EAGLE, Colorado — Through a collaborative effort between Eagle County's Public Health Department and the Western Eagle County Ambulance District, a new community paramedic pilot program is being launched to provide better, more cost-effective health-care services.
As part of the community paramedic model, patients are referred to emergency medical services personnel by their primary care physician to receive services in the home, including hospital discharge follow-up, blood draws, medication reconciliation and wound care. The program is the first of its kind in the state and officially begins on Aug. 17.
Currently, Colorado Mountain Medical, Eagle Care, Eagle Valley Medical Center, Vail Valley Medical Center and Valley View Hospitals' primary care physicians are committed to the pilot and will begin referring patients immediately. The program will initially serve individuals within the WECAD district, which encompasses 1,100 square miles in western Eagle County and eastern Garfield County.
Future expansion is a possibility, according to Chris Montera, WECAD chief.
“Geographically speaking, we live in an area that would greatly benefit from this program,” Montera said. “Many of our most vulnerable patients live miles away from the hospital, it can be difficult or costly for them to find transportation for regular visits or routine checkups.”
Patients will not be charged for services during the pilot. Funding includes approximately $500,000 in grant money, with $225,000 from the Colorado Health Foundation.
Anne Robinson, public health nurse manager with Eagle County, says the grants will cover two years of operation without reimbursement.
“During the five-year pilot program, Eagle County will serve as a test case for the State of Colorado,” Robinson said. “We expect to collect enough compelling data to petition to have the program reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers.”
The program will initially operate with two specially trained community paramedics who will coordinate with the referring physician to ensure quality of care and appropriate oversight. In addition, paramedics will work with Eagle County's Public Health Department to provide preventative services throughout the community.
The launch will follow this week's sixth annual International Roundtable on Community Paramedicine, taking place today through Wednesday at Manor Vail Lodge in Vail. About 100 attendees from around the world will discuss major trends and topics in paramedicine, including the community paramedic model.
For more information, call Robinson at 970-748-2005 or Montera at 970-328-1130.