COVID-19 has brought about a need to manage and treat patients differently. The growth of community health and outreach programs across the country as a way to reduce the strain of emergency calls has provided a platform some departments have been able to utilize against the pandemic.
The Sacramento (Calif.) Metropolitan Fire District’s experience was the subject of a Friday session at ImageTrend’s Connect virtual 2020 conference. The district had started its integration of ImageTrend’s Elite community health software when it was called upon to help with outreach testing for COVID-19. Its crews reported cases that led to identification of potential hotspots in the community, bridging the gap between prehospital and community care.
Sac Metro Fire personnel went into the field to test high-risk patients at home. They were able to get to communities unable to go to testing, like Sacramento’s homeless community. According to Scott Perryman, a captain, paramedic, and PA with Sac Metro Fire, being able to go to patients for testing provided the benefit of an eyes-on look while reducing strain on hospitals.
The field testing mitigated only a small portion of COVID-19’s local impact, but sometimes that one swab made a huge difference. Perryman shared a story of a patient who’d been released from an area hospital to continue to recover back at home. The patient’s family wanted to place them in a specialty recovery center, but the patient would require a negative COVID-19 test. With only a week to get tested and get negative results back, and the patient unable to go to the hospital or testing center, the family was worried the patient would lose out on being able to move to the specialty center. Getting in contact with Sac Metro Fire’s Community Health program, the patient was able to get quick testing, allowing them to move to the specialty center and continue to recover.
While mobile integrated health is still a growing movement across the country, the success of many of these programs during COVID-19 helps set their foundation for the future.