Five Questions With: Tim Perkins, Manager of the Virginia Division of Community Health and Technical Resources
The Virginia Office of EMS (OEMS) recently created a division tasked with fostering strategic partnerships between EMS agencies, healthcare professionals and the communities they serve to advance population-based initiatives designed to improve health outcomes across the state.
The new Community Health and Technical Resources Division will identify gaps in access to healthcare as well as analyze EMS workforce trends to employ a community paramedicine and disease management model for Virginia residents. EMS World sat down with Tim Perkins, who assumed the role of manager of the new division in March 2018, to learn more about the department and the goals it has established.
EMS World: Can you briefly describe the new Division of Community Health and Technical Resources?
Perkins: The Office of EMS recognized that MIH/CP, gaps in access to healthcare, rural EMS, and population health are relatively new to EMS, but are concepts that are vital, and some of the most important aspects of EMS going forward. In addition, there is always a need for the Office of EMS to provide technical assistance to our stakeholders. OEMS management decided it would be prudent and efficient to create a new division and bring it all into one central location.
How did you become involved and what are your primary responsibilities in the division?
As someone who grew up in a rural setting, spent many years as a provider in rural systems, and worked with EMS entities on the local, regional, and state levels, being involved in the new division just made sense. It’s exciting to be working in a job that involves things you’re passionate about. My responsibilities are to literally build the division from the ground up, hire staff, and coordinate the creation of stakeholder work groups to address the items the division is tasked with.
Can you briefly describe the current state of MIH-CP in Virginia?
Just as with other places in the country, MIH-CP in Virginia is evolving. There are agencies in the state that have programs up and running, but there’s not a specific standard for an agency to follow if they wish to implement a program. In addition, regulatory changes need to be made to allow for agencies to implement MIH-CP programs.
What are the office’s top priorities and how do you feel this division will change the landscape of EMS in your state?
The priority for the office is to improve and enhance EMS care, especially in underserved communities. We need to utilize not just EMS patient care data, but also integrate and incorporate health equity data, epidemiology incidence data, and socioeconomic data to target EMS training and workforce recruitment and retention initiatives. We’re looking at collaborative opportunities to bridge gaps in access to care and enhance the role of EMS in public health in Virginia. We will also be looking at EMS systems across the state to determine where changes can be made from the EMS perspective to improve the health of Virginians overall.
I personally feel like the landscape of EMS is already changing. The Virginia OEMS wants to continue to be at the forefront of that change. The work ahead is daunting, and will need to involve forward-thinking individuals who want the EMS system to be dynamic, progressive, and most importantly, successful.
What important takeaways can EMS leaders in other states learn from the development of this new office?
The EMS Agenda of the Future includes the integration of public health, healthcare, and public safety. In Virginia, we know that the EMS status quo will not meet the needs of our population in both the short and long term. We’re hoping that other states also are able to implement that same vision. I hope that EMS leaders in other states (especially at the state level) look at what we are doing with the new division, and want to implement something similar in their own state. This is how things like trauma care evolved over the years, and hopefully the new division will bear fruit in the same way.
For more information on the Virginia Division of Community Health and Technical Resources click here.