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Proposed new ambulance program seeks to keep residents at home

  • Paramedic Matt Robblee checks the blood pressure of Dolores Webb, 86, of Peterborough.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Paramedic Matt Robblee checks the blood pressure of Dolores Webb, 86, of Peterborough.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Paramedic Matt Robblee checks the blood pressure of Dolores Webb, 86, of Peterborough.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, June 06, 2017 7:44AM

If the Peterborough ambulance can help keep people at home, that’s what they want to do, said Deputy Chief Joshua Patrick.

The Peterborough ambulance is currently attempting to start up a Mobile Integrated Healthcare program – also sometimes referred to as “community paramedics.” Instead of seeing people rely on ambulances and emergency room visits for things that might be able to be handled in their home, Patrick said he’d rather see paramedics get additional training that would allow them to give follow up care on long-term or chronic injuries. 

“EMS, we’re experts in the first 30 minutes to an hour of an emergency,” said Patrick. “To do this, we’d need additional training in long-term, chronic disease management, wound treatment and redressing, things of that nature.”

It’s an extra 16 to 22 hours of training for the department’s paramedics, and would require a separate vehicle with some essential equipment to make it a viable program – which comes with a start up cost that’s roughly estimated to be $100,000 in the first year, said Patrick. He hopes to be able to raise the funds privately, with assistance from the Peterborough Fire and Rescue Association, and not impact tax dollars. That would buy the equipment and train six paramedics. 

But the community could see a payback on that cost, said Patrick. Peterborough ambulance responded to 56 calls in Hillsborough County that resulted in what has been termed “preventable” hospital stays, and another 35 from Cheshire County. 

With some health insurance companies – notably Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield – changing the parameters for when they’ll pay for emergency room visits, a preventable stay could quickly become costly for the public. 

“We want to keep people in their homes as much as possible and prevent readmission,” said Patrick.

Most of what community paramedics would be doing is helping residents navigate the health care field. They might help them set up an appropriate appointment with their doctor or therapist, rather than take them to the emergency room, for example, or connect them with a visiting nurse or other service. These are the kinds of things that can prevent a hospital stay or ambulance call in the future and ultimately, save both the resident and the ambulance money, said Patrick. 

Patrick hopes to begin the program this fall, pending funding.