MassLive Source Article | Comments Courtesy of Matt Zavadsky
Nice comments from Scott Cluett – his new role at the state is similar to other state EMS offices, such as Georgia, who are implementing MIH specialists in their departments.
Tip of the hat to Kolby Miller of Medstar Ambulance (Michigan) for forwarding this article.
Massachusetts ambulance services urged to launch preventive health programs that could reduce ER trips
By James F. Lowe
NORTHAMPTON — The state is urging local ambulance services to branch out into preventive health programs that could reduce trips to hospital emergency rooms.
That includes assessing fall risks in seniors’ homes, ensuring safe disposing of syringes used by diabetics and heroin users, performing mass vaccinations and more.
“There are some great opportunities for EMS companies to start doing some point-of-care testing,” said Scott Cluett, manager of the state’s Mobile Integrated Health program. For instance, EMTs could screen patients for asthma, or make referrals to a primary care physician.
The Community EMS program is meant to get ambulance services working collaboratively with local public health officials and related organizations. Since the state started taking applications in October, six EMS providers in the eastern part of the state have already been approved to launch programs, including in Boston, Fall River and Brockton. Cluett hopes there will be 40 to 50 such programs proposed across the state by July.
Cluett was the featured speaker Thursday at the annual meeting of Western Massachusetts Emergency Medical Services, a nonprofit support organization for fire departments and private ambulance companies in the four western counties.
“Community EMS, especially for our smaller, more rural towns, it’s a perfect fit,” said Deborah Clapp, WMEMS executive director. “EMS are trusted providers. They’re already in people’s homes.”
One benefit of Community EMS programs could be aiding public health nurses, who have limited time and resources. Community EMS could also bring health services to people without transportation or limited mobility.
Clapp said her organization is working with two consultants to assess needs in Western Massachusetts and develop programs in areas like fall prevention and opioid education.
Many first responders already carry nalaxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. Mark Miller, director of the state Office of Emergency Medical Services, said changes in federal regulations could allow first responders to supply nalaxone to family members of opioid users to safeguard against future overdoses.
Community EMS program proposals must be reviewed and approved by the state, and must be recertified every two years, Cluett said. High-value categories the state hopes EMS providers will address include opioid abuse, housing stability, mental health and disease control.
Cluett said Community EMS programs will benefit public health and save money for the health care system as a whole.
As things stand today, ambulance services are reimbursed by Medicare only when they transport patients to an emergency room. But Cluett said the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is rolling out a new model that would reimburse EMS providers for treatment in the field and transportation to alternative destinations like urgent care centers — something he called a “game changer.”
Thursday’s WMEMS meeting and luncheon was attended by about 75 people and included an award ceremony recognizing 12 people who helped save the life of Linwood Clark of Haydenville, who stopped breathing Jan. 31.
They were: Daryl Springman, Jason Connell and Alex Kassell of the Williamsburg Fire Department, Robert Reinke and Mitchell Cichy of the Williamsburg Fire Department, Drew Morse, Kim Dresser, Maryellen McQueston and Keith Cotnoir of Highland Ambulance, first responder Tim McQueston and dispatcher Wendy Pariseau of Northampton Control.
Clark’s wife, Karthyn Warner, was also credited for dialing 911.
“Her calling was what saved his life,” said Highland Director Michael Rock.