With EMS up 6%, Ohio paramedic program reduces repeat 911 calls and medical contacts

Cornelius Frolik
Dayton, Ohio Daily News

DAYTON, Ohio — Emergency medical services are up this year in Dayton, but officials say they’ve been successful in reducing emergency room visits and EMS requests from some of the city’s top 911 callers.

A program launched in late 2019 helps vulnerable community members who use emergency services at high rates better manage their health and connects them to valuable resources and more appropriate services, Dayton Fire Department officials said. .

The paramedic team offers home safety checks, medication and prescription assistance, referrals to primary care physicians, and connects patients to resources that can help with medical insurance, utilities, rent, clothing, food and transportation, said Capt. Brad French with the Dayton Fire Department.

The paramedic team offers home safety checks, medication and prescription assistance, referrals to primary care physicians, and connects patients to resources that can help with medical insurance, utilities, rent, clothing, food and transportation, said Capt. Brad French with the Dayton Fire Department.

“The program is working very well,” said Captain Brad French of the Dayton Fire Department. “The partnership has been beneficial in many areas, especially with the sharing of resources and the exchange of information for the benefit of patients.”

But at this time, it’s unclear if the program will be renewed when funding runs out at the end of the year.

EMS runs in the city are up 6% this year through the end of April, compared to the same time last year, according to data from the Dayton Fire Department.

2017 was the last time the department performed more runs during this period, and it was a record year for emergency calls. Overdoses and the opioid epidemic were largely to blame.

Despite the overall increase in medical visits, firefighters say the city’s partnership program with Premier Health focused on frequent 911 calls and emergency room visitors is achieving its goal of reducing medical contact with these individuals.

The Community Paramedicine program sends a team to meet patients who have been referred by emergency doctors, primary care providers or ambulance crews, said Ben Sutherly, spokesman for Premier Health.

The team visits patients in their homes to help them better manage their health before an emergency strikes and also connects them to services, he said.

The program serves up to 20 people at a time, Sutherly said, and patients exit the program once health goals set by their care team are met.

The program targets people who frequently call 911 for medical services or who visit emergency rooms and departments at high rates.

Data shared by the city and premier when the program launched showed that about 300 people in Dayton had called 911 for medical reasons at least 10 times in the previous two years.

A woman sought help 66 times during this period, and this small group of patients represented more than 4,600 medical contacts.

The two-person community paramedic team served more than 100 people, and emergency room visits and EMS requests were down 38% for patients enrolled in the program, according to Premier Health and firefighters.

The paramedic team offers home safety checks, medication and prescription assistance, referrals to primary care physicians, and connects patients with resources that can help with medical insurance, utilities, rent, clothing, food and transportation, French said.

The team, made up of an emergency medical technician and a paramedic, spends an average of 55 days with patients in the program.

“The team was able to help a patient navigate the healthcare system to get a referral to a specialist in Cincinnati, which significantly reduced their use of the system,” he said.

The program – funded by Premier Health and the Good Samaritan Foundation – Dayton – is funded until the end of this year.

Premier Health says no decision has been made on whether to continue the program. French said the city and premier are actively discussing the next steps for the program.

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein recently said the city will analyze the data and conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the program.

“It’s not a widely used program, but it has had an impact on … people who use 911 as a provider of medical care,” she said.

If the data indicates the program is working and worth the cost, the city might consider partnering with other health care providers to expand these services, Dickstein said.

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(c) 2022 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

Ryan H. Bowman