May 23, 2017 Published in Health, Public Safety, Top Stories

Alexandria Fire Department Launches Integrated Health/Community Paramedic Program

The Alexandria Fire Department today announced the launch of a Mobile Integrated Health/Community Paramedic program. MIH/CP is a unique and evolving model of community-based health care, focusing on improving the lives of patients, lowering healthcare costs and using EMS providers as resources to solve healthcare problems within the community.

The Community Paramedic is the key to delivering this new model of healthcare. Using the existing Fire & EMS dispatch and communications systems, 24/7 staffing, familiarization with vulnerable populations, and the advanced skills of veteran paramedics and firefighters, the CP provides scheduled medical care to patients who lack access to primary care, mobility and/or transportation, or who need help navigating to medical and social services. The CP works within other important parts of a local health care system, including the health department, mental health clinics, hospitals and social workers.

“MIH represents a paradigm shift in emergency care for our citizens and visitors. It leverages existing resources to reduce emergencies from occurring through enhanced programs in fall prevention and healthcare navigation for our most vulnerable,” said AFD Medical Director Joseph Marfori, M.D. “It makes our system proactive rather than reactive. We think that for our patients, the only good 911 call is the one that doesn't happen.”

The first initiative for AFD’s MIH/CP program will focus on fall prevention. CPs will schedule appointments with previously-identified residents to provide a home fall risk assessment at no charge. CPs will work Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 8 a.m. until noon.  Eventually, this program will solicit referrals from within the department and from community members.

“This is another positive step in the services the AFD provides to our community. This community risk reduction effort will be an excellent example of the ongoing partnerships amongst City agencies,” said Fire Chief Robert Dubé.

AFD expects that its MIH/CP program will expand in the future to establish more programs such as high-frequency 911 user intervention, helping patients manage chronic disease, preventing hospital readmission after discharge, partnerships with home hospice and transporting patients to alternative destinations.

"These MIH/CP programs are fast becoming reliable tactics to address the needs of patients within the community,” said EMS Battalion Chief Brian Hricik. “Paramedics and firefighters, who already respond to patients in their homes, can work with other agencies to meet the patients’ needs, thereby improving outcomes."

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