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Nebraska City Council Approves Community Paramedicine Partnership

LINCOLN – Fire department paramedics and emergency medical technicians would make basic health care house calls on some McCook area residents under a program that’s expected to begin by the end of January.

The council last week approved a memorandum of understanding that will require approval from department’s two program partners: Community Hospital and McCook Clinic. The Community Hospital Health Foundation has committed $10,000 for the program, the McCook Daily Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/1QREycY ).

McCook Fire Chief Marc Harpham told the City Council that Community Paramedicine is aimed at reducing the burden on emergency personnel. The program lets the hospital and clinic screen patients to see who might benefit from the extra at-home help.

“These are patients that kind of fall through the cracks, so to speak,” he said, adding that they don’t qualify for home health care, and might not understand or are unable to follow medical instructions provided as they leave the hospital.

Many of the participants likely will be people often seen in the emergency room and transported by the department ambulance repeatedly, Harpham said. The overall goal is to minimize those nonemergency transports and increase the medical services to those patients at their homes.

The medics’ free visits “would just consist of doing some basic assessment, blood pressure, vital signs, checking sugars, doing some education with them if we need to,” Harpham said. “All of the things that we intend on doing with this are currently within the regulations, within our scope of practice as paramedics but also as EMTs,” he said.

Each patient in the program will be visited four times over a four-week period. No more than 10 patients will be seen during a month, Harpham said, and no more than 120 patients in the first year. He expects most of the program participants will be McCook residents, although his department’s ambulance service area covers 320 square miles of southwest Nebraska.

“It’s not where they live but what their circumstances are,” the chief said told The Associated Press on Monday.