San Bernardino County Fire Department officials said this week that the department is participating in a 12- to 18-month-long statewide pilot project that will study the value of a concept called Community Paramedicine.
County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said the concept is the “next innovative wave” in health care.
“The goal of this program is to (add to) the patient’s current plan of care with resources currently established within the community,” Hartwig said in a release. “(The resources) will provide the patient with the necessary education and tools to maintain and improve (health) outside the hospital setting.”
Authorities said recent changes in health care have created an opportunity for EMS to evolve from a transportation service to a fully integrated component of the health care system.
A total of 17 firefighter-paramedics began training this week for the Community Paramedicine program, 10 of whom are County Fire firefighters.
San Bernardino County is one of 12 locations chosen to participate in the pilot program to study various aspects of Community Paramedicine. County Fire will be studying post-discharge follow-up of a congestive heart failure patient.
Authorities said the county is home to one of the largest per capita populations of congestive heart failure patients in the U.S. Sufferers of this condition who mismanage their disease depend on the emergency medical system (both 911and hospital emergency departments) to keep their condition in check. Through Community Paramedicine interventions, the hope is to decrease the rate of re-admission to the hospital and the necessity to access 911 for non-emergency situations.
County Fire will be partnering with many other agencies to provide a post-discharge follow-up visit to the patient’s home to perform a physical check-up on the patient and ensure the patient is maintaining or improving their discharge status.
Community Paramedics will complete more than 160 hours of classroom training and clinical work, as well as learning community resources.
The program is expected to begin by the middle of this year, with County Fire Community Paramedics testing the program in Fontana, Hesperia and Victorville. The goal is to reach out to congestive heart failure patients within the first 48 to 72 hours of being released from Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.