CONCORD, NC—Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA), Cabarrus County’s public health authority, has performed nearly 19,000 vaccinations at Cabarrus Arena and Events Center drive-thru clinics. Missing from that number are thousands of locals who are unable to leave the home without considerable, taxing effort due to illness or injury.
Because homebound individuals often suffer from complex medical conditions and related issues, they are considered extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. CHA Health Director Bonnie Coyle and her team turned to Cabarrus County EMS for a solution.
“EMS has been an essential partner with our clinics, providing staff to address on-site care needs,” Coyle said. “Expanding the partnership to vaccinate homebound individuals through the County’s Community Paramedic program was a natural fit.”
The EMS Community Paramedic program provides in-home, non-emergency care to patients. The county and Atrium Health launched the program in 2015 to reduce hospital readmission and cut down on calls to 9-1-1 for non-life-threatening issues. By checking in on patients in the home, community paramedics can explain information, evaluate risk factors in the home, assess medication compliance and provide ongoing support and encouragement.
The program’s success led to a recent expansion to include a broader range of needs, such as mental health concerns.
Over the past month, CHA’s vaccination team provided community paramedics with specialized training on appropriate vaccine storage and distribution. The partners rolled out a soft launch of the homebound program on February 8, and have since vaccinated 30 patients who are regularly visited by community paramedics.
“It’s extremely important that we address accessibility issues for members of our community,” Coyle said. “The partnership with the Community Paramedics program is a great example of how Cabarrus County comes together to serve our entire community.”
As supplies become available, CHA and EMS will expand the homebound vaccination program to individuals who do not receive community paramedic services.