Specially trained paramedics visit patients at their homes
This article first published in the Eagle Valley Enterprise. By Derek Franz.
EAGLE, Colorado — Since it officially launched June 1, Western Eagle County Ambulance District’s Community Paramedics program has received national attention.
WECAD Chief Chris Montera said two goals of the Community Paramedics are to reduce hospital readmission rates by 50 percent and to ensure all patients have a “medical home” (primary-care physician).
It’s a new idea — something in high demand during a time when the nation is reconsidering its health care system. The hope is that programs such as Community Paramedics will eventually save money, as well as lives.
“Agencies all over the U.S. and Colorado want it, and they want it yesterday,” Ward said.
That’s why Colorado Mountain College is offering a new “pilot class” in Edwards. More than 100 students across the country are enrolled to become community paramedics. The course was developed in a partnership with North Central EMS Institute in Minnesota and is mostly conducted online. There are six mandatory classes, however, which means some students will be traveling to Edwards to attend on those occasions.
Prerequisites for the course include two years of experience as a paramedic, among other things. Since it is a “pilot class,” Ward pointed out that the curriculum available to the public on www.community
paramedic.org is not the latest one.
“The public would see the old one online,” she said. “The pilot curriculum is only available to students taking the class.”
Meanwhile, WECAD recently applied for a new grant, along with six other agencies, that is specific to setting up a community paramedic program in Colorado. Further illustrating the interest in the program is the fact that a handbook WECAD published online has been downloaded more than 600 times from all over the world.
“While I can’t statistically say the program is proven to be successful from a monetary standpoint — it’s too early — I can say we have helped the community access health care,” Ward said.
WECAD community paramedics have had 22 patients and 52 patient visits since they started in June.
Creek said the doctors in the area are still forgetting that they have the community paramedic option for some of their patients.
“We want more local awareness,” Ward said. “People here still don’t know what I do. We’ve gained all this national attention, but this program is intended for our community.”
To learn more about WECAD Community Paramedics, visit www.wecadems.com/
cp.html or call 970-524-1689.