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New Community Paramedicine Program Focuses on Patient Success

Miranda Grimm, a paramedic for St. Joseph, is part of the Life Lion EMS Community Paramedicine team, which includes, from left, Brandon Wattai, Jason Druschel, Grimm, Loren Miller and Scott Buchle.

Penn State Health St. Joseph’s new Community Paramedicine program is poised to change the way patients transition from the hospital to the home environment.

In the free and voluntary program, which started in November, patients benefit from a home visit with a paramedic within seven days of discharge.

“The program should be thought of as an extension of a patient’s hospital stay,” explains Wendy Clayton, clinical program coordinator for quality and performance improvement. “It is intended to improve outcomes, reduce the inpatient stay and reduce readmissions.”

During the visit, the paramedic reviews the patient’s discharge instructions, new prescriptions and educates the patient about his or her disease process. If necessary, she performs a home safety check and addresses other potential impacts on the patient’s health, such as access to food and electricity.

“These are things we cannot see when we discuss discharge at the hospital with the patient,” Clayton adds. “This is our way to be eyes and ear in the home to make sure patients have what they need to succeed.”

Clayton, who worked with Brandon Wattai, supervisor of Life Lion EMS Community Paramedicine, for two years to bring the program to St. Joseph, says it was worth the wait.

“Even though the program is in its early stages, the patient response has been positive,” she says. “Miranda Grimm, our paramedic, has been working closely with the patient navigators to close gaps in patient care and share great information for how we can move the program forward.”

Grimm, who has more than nine years’ experience in emergency medical services, welcomes the opportunity to extend her role as a paramedic from reactive to proactive.

“Before, I would be treating emergency, life-threatening medical problems,” she explains. “With the Community Paramedicine program, I have the opportunity to learn why patients are the way they are and go further to make sure they follow their care plan.”

She also believes the program comes at a critical time for EMS providers, who often face a high rate of burnout.

“As health care changes from reactive to preventive, the number of 911 calls will be reduced and it will be necessary to reallocate paramedics,” she says. “I believe community paramedicine is the future of EMS.”

Visit Community Paramedicine to learn more about the program.

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