Ocala Fire Rescue has launched the city’s first Community Paramedicine program.
The agency partnered with AdventHealth Ocala and the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County to establish the program, which is focused on addressing the medical needs of low-income, uninsured community members. It is designed to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
The Community Paramedicine program mirrors those in Manatee County, Orlando and Gainesville. It ensures patients with chronic health issues, including congestive heart failure and opiate use disorder, receive personalized support before calling 911. In addition to at-home care, the program also is expected to reduce unnecessary EMS transport, hospital readmissions and emergency room visits.
In 2019, Ocala Fire Rescue responded to more than 19,000 EMS calls, with 80 percent of those resulting in hospital ER visits. Unwarranted hospital visits can become a financial burden for patients with chronic health issues and through the new program, the agencies involved hope to alleviate the burden to get patients the right care at the right time.
The CP program will complete at least 25 home visits each week. During those, 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 also will 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. They will be provided care for a minimum of 30 days or a maximum of 90 days if the patient’s condition warrants further contact. Care provided by the 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 President and CEO Joe Johnson. “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, Ocala Fire Rescue will prioritize heavy users of 911 and emergency department services. The Community Foundation will provide data tracking and evaluation assistance, ensuring the program’s success.
To learn more about the Community Paramedicine program, contact Lauren Deiorio, Community Foundation president and executive director, at (352) 622-5020, ext. 102 or at Lauren@OcalaFoundation.org.