Paramedic house call program starts in Brainerd lakes area
A new paramedic house call program designed to keep patients out of the hospital and cut health care costs is now available in the Brainerd lakes area.
Cuyuna Regional Medical Center (CRMC) Certified Community Paramedic Jana Keefe travels to people’s homes when there is not a crisis to help them live a healthier life.
“Our goal is to keep people at home and healthy,” Keefe said in a news release. “We’re the ones to call if you have a health issue and are not sure if you should call 911.”
For Keefe, who is also a registered respiratory therapist, it means being on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some shifts she’s out on her own making scheduled visits to help patients avoid a costly trip to the emergency department. She takes vital signs, changes dressings, administers lab tests, follows up on hospital orders, and manages medications.
The community paramedic provides follow-up care, at the request of a physician, for those who find it hard to get to a clinic appointment. The patients are not so sick that an ambulance is needed but they can become very ill if they are not taken care of ahead of time.
Each shift, Keefe contacts patients who are discharged from the hospital to check on their health. In the home she provides necessary non-emergent health care such as changing dressings, wrapping knees, and even scheduling clinic visits.
When she is in the home, Keefe also completes a comprehensive safety survey. She checks to determine whether fire extinguishers are active, that there are no trip hazards, proper, easy access inside and out of the home, and meals are available. She also informs the patient about helpful resources available within the county.
All of this service is covered by most insurance plans. In Minnesota, unlike other states, the community paramedics’ services are reimbursed through medical assistance.
At this time, only CRMC, the Wadena Hospital and North Memorial Health Care System of the Twin Cities provide community paramedic care in Minnesota. Other states have programs but Minnesota is the only state to require the paramedics to have 300 extra hours of training. Keefe, who has 18 years emergency services experience, was the second paramedic in Crow Wing County to graduate from this training program.
For more information, call 218-232-6174.