Groups of paramedics in a number of states are making an effort to assist with the gap in primary healthcare by providing some patients with house calls; an initiative that the federal healthcare law is hoping will help to address the primary healthcare shortages and to reduce the emergency room and doctors’ office visits that are much more costly.
Examples of the types of services performed by these paramedics are patient prescription checks, electrocardiograms, drawing blood, changing dressings, and making other observations that would otherwise require a trip to visit a doctor
According to one of the participating paramedics, Kevin Creek, of Eagle County, Colorado, most of the individuals in his field are there due to the rush of adrenaline. He explained that he’s had to deal with stabbings, shootings, and car accidents, but “Instead of taking out the blood and guts, this is a move into preventative care, so people don’t have to call 911.”
The program in which Creek is participating is a pilot project that is run through the Ambulance District of Western Eagle County. It is a full time job that has Creek and a colleague working under doctor supervision, as they are referred to patients. The initial evaluation is performed by the doctors when the paramedics provide them with the information, so that the next step for the patient’s care can be decided.
Anyone in Eagle County with a 26 percent uninsured level can take advantage of the free Community Paramedic Program, which has received its funding from grants worth $700,000 from the Colorado Health Department.