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How CEOs Are Engaging EMS to Help Reduce Costs

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, September 21, 2011

Do you know the Emergency Medical Services chief in your community? Do you have his or her cell phone number, talk regularly, or meet for lunch on occasion?

I asked Anne Robinson, public health nurse consultant to Eagle County, Colo., whether most hospital executives in her community know their EMS chief or administrator.

"I would say they know them by name, but do they really know them and understand what EMS is? I would say no," she replied.

The time has come to get to know them. They might just be the missing link in the medical home and in creating a truly integrated healthcare community.

"The people that are bringing you patients every day, into your doors, have a direct impact on what happens when they enter your doors," Christopher Montera, chief of the Colorado's Western Eagle County Ambulance District (WECAD), said in an interview. "As a CEO it can be impactful to invite those people to the table."

Montera and Robinson are at the helm of a community paramedic pilot program between Eagle County Colorado's public health department and WECAD. In the community paramedic model, patients are referred to EMS personnel by their primary care physician to receive services in the home, such as hospital discharge follow-up, blood draws, medication reconciliation, and wound care.

In addition to the county and WECAD, local hospitals and medical centers are onboard with the pilot. Colorado Mountain Medical, Eagle Care, Eagle Valley Medical Center, Vail Valley Medical Center, and Valley View Hospitals' primary care physicians are referring patients within the WECAD district, which encompasses 1,100 square miles in western Eagle County and eastern Garfield County.

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