Submitted by Anna Clark, City of McKinney
The McKinney Fire Department announced the implementation of a new Community Healthcare Program on Wednesday. While relatively new in this country, the concept has been successfully used in Canada and Australia for a number of years.
On Monday, June 3, MFD began a six-month pilot of the state-of-the-art initiative designed to provide citizens with the most efficient, effective and appropriate response to their health concerns, while allowing better management of patient care and department resources.
A major component of the CHP is providing patients with a network of resources for appropriate care. CHP doesn’t broaden the scope of emergency medical services provided by the McKinney Fire Department. It broadens the role EMS personnel play in overall patient care.
“We congratulate the McKinney Fire Department on taking this innovative step with community paramedicine. Our experience has been that it drastically improves patient care and enhances resource availability in the community,” commented Dr. Jeff Beeson, Medical Director for the Emergency Physicians Board of Tarrant County. “Chief Kistner and his team deserve a lot of credit for being one of the first fire departments to expand their role into community paramedicine.”
One component to be implemented in the coming weeks is Priority Dispatching; response levels are determined by the severity of the injury or illness indicated by the reporting party. For example, a caller requesting assistance for a sprained ankle would not require the same level of response as a patient with a known cardiac condition reporting chest pain and difficulty breathing. Sending paramedics to the scene of the ankle sprain in a fuel-efficient vehicle fully equipped for a medical emergency leaves ambulances and other apparatus available for higher priority calls, such as the patient with chest pain and difficulty breathing, a motor vehicle accident or a structure fire. An additional advantage of the new system is increased safety for emergency responders and the public, as well as a more economical operation.
“The Priority Dispatch system and Community Healthcare Program will not adversely affect the outstanding level of emergency services already provided to our citizens,” said Fire Chief Danny Kistner. “Our goal is to provide customers with the appropriate level of care, while operating in the safest and most efficient manner. Simply stated, we want to ensure the right care at the right time by the right provider, resulting in the best outcome and most effective use of resources. Of course any patient who wants to be transported to the hospital will be transported but this program allows a full complement of options best suited to the patient’s needs.”
The CHP is not a substitute for regular care from a primary care physician. Patients must be referred to the CHP as a means to augment their on-going health care. Referrals may be made through physicians, home health workers or area hospitals. “Community paramedicine is a new concept in the USA, and McKinney Fire Department is excited to implement this innovative approach to better serve the needs of our community, as well as providing a model for other progressive EMS organizations across the country,” said EMS Battalion Chief Kyle Easley.
“The community healthcare paramedic is an experienced paramedic and will receive additional training to provide a broader range of services. Working with the patient’s primary care physician and local medical direction, services offered may include health screenings, wellness education, immunizations, chronic disease management (i.e., diabetes and congestive heart failure), and home health and safety programs,” said Chief Kistner. “Community paramedics can also function as the eyes and ears of physicians when conducting home visits, and they will work with community partners to guide patients to appropriate resources for improved care coordination.”
For additional information on the Community Healthcare Program or other programs or services of the McKinney Fire Department., or to schedule a presentation for your civic group, HOA, service club or other organization, visit www.mckinneyfire.org or call 972-547-2893.