Ocala, FL (April 23, 2020) — Ocala Fire Rescue (OFR), AdventHealth Ocala, and the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County have partnered to establish Ocala’s first Community Paramedicine (CP) program. Focused on addressing the medical needs of low-income uninsured community members, CP is meant to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. The CP program launched on April 1.
Mirroring programs in Manatee County, Orlando, and Gainesville, CP ensures patients with chronic health issues, including congestive heart failure and opiate use disorder, receive personalized support before calling 9-1-1. In addition to at-home care, the CP program is expected to reduce unnecessary EMS transport, hospital readmissions, and emergency room (ER) visits.
In 2019, OFR responded to more than 19,000 EMS calls – 80% of those calls resulted in a hospital ER visit. Unwarranted hospital visits can become a financial burden for patients with chronic health issues and through the CP program, AdventHealth Ocala, Ocala Fire Rescue and the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County want to relieve this burden to get patients the right care at the right time.
The CP program will complete at least 25 home visits each week. During the visits, paramedics will monitor the patient’s condition, provide coaching of at-home health practices, and verify that the patient is adhering to the prescribed medication schedule. Paramedics will also assess a patient’s living conditions and provide referrals to community resources when necessary.
“The Community Paramedicine Program is an outstanding example of partnership and cooperation between agencies to better serve our citizens and visitors,” said Ocala Fire Chief, Shane Alexander. “The patients we serve are real people that we engage with to improve lives. This is an example of innovative and proactive processes that we all should seek out to make Ocala/Marion a better place to live, play, and prosper.”
Patients can enroll in the program upon discharge from AdventHealth Ocala. Patient care will be provided for a minimum of 30 days, or a maximum of 90 days if the patient’s condition warrants further contact. Care provided by the CP program will come at no cost to the patient.
“AdventHealth Ocala made a promise to elevate health care, to solve some of the community gaps in care, and to remove barriers such as a lack of transportation or insurance for people needing care,” said Joe Johnson, President and CEO of AdventHealth Ocala. “We are excited to partner with Ocala Fire Rescue and Community Foundation Ocala/Marion County to make sure patients get the right care at the right time while we build on our promise to provide exceptional, high-quality health care to our community.”
In collaboration with AdventHealth Ocala, and to further protect patient confidentiality, OFR will prioritize heavy users of 9-1-1 and emergency department services. The Community Foundation will provide data tracking and evaluation assistance, ensuring the CP’s program success.
To learn more about the Community Paramedicine program, contact Lauren Deiorio, Community Foundation Executive Director at (352) 622-5020 ext. 102.