By Bridget Binsbacher,
Peoria City Councilmember
As the population in Peoria grows, so too does the need for services. To address these needs, the city of Peoria has taken an innovative approach to medical house calls in particular.
The Peoria Community Paramedicine Program is centered on proactive community health and prevention. The program is designed to reach out to those who are frequent 911 callers to connect them to health care and social resources and decrease their reliance on the 911 system. Recently, the Peoria Fire-Medical Department expanded it to a full time program, thanks to the support of the Peoria City Council and their allocation of CARES Act funding for paramedicine.
For this program, 28 Peoria paramedics have participated in specialized training to serve as community paramedics. When a typical community paramedicine visit is scheduled it can take up to two hours. During the initial visit, the paramedics will perform a home safety inspection with particular emphasis on fall or trip hazards. Community paramedics may also help with such services as scheduling health care appointments, arranging transportation, prescription reconciliation, getting durable medical supplies, arranging meal delivery, and navigating the health care system to arrange for other vital services. On average, the community paramedics will schedule two or three visits per patient to make sure that any referrals have been contacted and to assess for any additional needs. The overall goal is to connect the participants with services that they might not know exist or do not know how to access. Additionally, the Peoria Fire-Medical Department has cultivated community partnerships with various organizations and the Peoria Neighborhood and Human Services Department for such services as home health care, durable medical equipment, behavioral health services, transportation, and other health care or social services.
Since the program’s inception, the Peoria Fire-Medical Department has been able to reduce 911 requests, help with chronic disease management and injury prevention, and establish a successful system for following up with high-risk patients resulting in less hospital readmissions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peoria Fire-Medical Department has used the Community Paramedicine Program to provide additional services to support flu and COVID-19 vaccines to the community.
These proactive, integrated health programs are working and keep people out of the hospital. By taking care of the community through this program, it is improving the health and wellness while reducing a strain on the system. To learn more, visit peoriaaz.gov/government/departments/fire-medical.