Tex. County to Add Community Paramedic Program
Aug. 17—The Somervell County Commissioners Court voted unanimously Monday to approve a program Fire Chief Mark Crawford said would provide more effective and efficient medical services—at a lower cost.
The program is known as the Community Paramedic Program. It's targeted for residents who tend to call 9-1-1 frequently seeking medical attention, sometimes resulting in ambulances being called multiple times a week to the same address for non-emergency situations.
It will involve paramedics making trips to residences to check on those who have been the most frequent medical 9-1-1 callers.
Crawford said the program will start immediately, "possibly alleviating the need to call 9-1-1 and reduce the strain on the 9-1-1 system—and improve their quality of life."
Because it should cut down on some of the 9-1-1 ambulance calls, Crawford indicated that adding the program shouldn't result in added costs.
"This will save money for the citizens, reduce unnecessary use of 9-1-1 resources, and help alleviate non-necessary use of our emergency room," Crawford stated in an email to the Glen Rose Reporter.
During Monday's meeting, Commissioner John Curtis asked if Crawford anticipates the program would end up creating greater expenses in the long run.
"I can't think of any," Crawford said. "I'll come to (the commissioners) if there are any additional costs."
Crawford said the visits will be targeted based on recommendations from the Glen Rose Medical Center, as well as previous local 9-1-1 medical calls.
Megan Pankburst, a firefighter engineer and veteran paramedic with the Somervell County Fire Department, will implement the program.
"She is compassionate, detailed and caring for those citizens who will benefit from a community paramedic program," Crawford said. "She already knows most of our patients who result in having to use the 9-1-1 system for non-emergency needs and will hopefully be able to help them avoid situations that could become serious."
Crawford explained that many rural communities use similar programs in ways that depend on their own needs and resources.
The commissioners approved the program by a 5-0 vote.
Another county budget workshop will be held, probably during the fourth week of August, according to County Auditor Brian Watts. A public budget hearing is tentatively set for either Sept. 11 or Sept. 18, he noted. It will be posted on the Somervell County website.
Also by a 5-0 vote, the commissioners approved the proposed tax rate of .46159 (per $100 of valuation). That rate, if approved in the commissioners' final budget vote later this month, represents no change from last year's tax rate.