Most know someone living with a chronic illness or an elderly person who struggles with medications and mobility. What many may not know is the number of individuals that have no recourse but to call 911 when they've slipped from their chair and can't get back up or when they have a complication with their oxygen therapy.
"The fact is, the majority of 911, EMS calls are non-emergent calls," Kevin Speer, CEO of Hendricks Regional Health, said. "They are calls from people that have no other option but to call 911. It's expensive; we're sending trained professionals and equipment to these situations where they are called in all of our communities—sometimes from the same person multiple times a day."
Last summer, as Speer's team traveled to every fire and police station in the county with their annual chill n' grill lunch program, EMT directors sought out Speer with the idea to start a program that reduces non-emergent EMT runs while still getting resources and help to residents in need.
"EMS brought this to us and asked to partner with the hospital, put a program in place and have highly qualified—in this case, a physician overseeing it—nurses, social workers and others to help find solutions for these residents," Speer said.
Speer says the program is a slow strategy in some respects. Residents should call 911 when they need to, but once the call is made and EMTs respond, they can refer the HRH team to intervene in those non-emergent situations.
"I think this will be a game changer in Hendricks County," Plainfield Fire Chief said Joel Thacker says in a video HRH has produced to explain the program.
HRH expects to connect with 800 patients in the county in the first year.
"We can find out who is in their support network and put them in touch with the right programs and the right people," Speer said. "We may start out with directly reaching out to known addresses of frequent calls, but helping people who have no other solution, to find those solutions. We're coming in behind first responders in a wellness fashion as opposed to emergency care."
The program will help from a public safety perspective because EMS and fire trucks will not be deployed for non-emergent care, making them available for true emergencies.
The expense of emergency care—ambulances, emergency room visits and more—will reduce the overall cost of healthcare and Speer says, to the extent that the hospital can, help someone's neighbor, family or friend stay in their home longer. The point of the program is simply to provide additional support to members of the community.
For instance, once wellness professionals are involved, they have the ability to put residents in touch with access to walkers and wheelchairs, balance classes to help avoid falls, logistical changes in the home such as handle bars and ramps, and medication issues.
"We want to get the right people in place," Speer said.
The paramedicine program is expected to be in place and running by mid-February.
Visit the website at www.hendricks.org/community-paramedicine for more information.
In other news, the hospital is celebrating its first year with a second location in Brownsburg and recently launched an electronic medical record system, EPIC.
"We made a $40 million investment to run one single system," Speer said. "In the past, when you visited the ER, doctors were literally pouring over multiple systems to see where you've been and what you've been treated for previously. With this system, patients can make appointments, check lab results and have their information available to any specialist, physician or professional available to them instantaneously."
HRH is also completing a new expansion at the Danville location with new patient enhancement, IV therapy and endoscopy suites. The space is scheduled to open in January.