Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital, in close collaboration with Urbana Fire and EMS, launched its Community Paramedicine (CP) program on February 1. The program is funded by a three-year, $225,000 grant the hospitals secured through the Ohio Department of Health’s Community Paramedicine (CP) Rural Health Pilot Program last year.

Urbana Hospital Emergency Department nurse Cheryl Wears, RN, BSN, EMT-p, Emergency Department Medical Director Wade Smith, DO and Urbana Fire and EMS are working together to care for a community of patients who can receive the treatment they need at home instead of the emergency department.

“In the CP health care model, paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) expand their roles and work together with nurses to bring primary care and preventive services to people in the community,” said Jamie Houseman, President, Mercy Health Urbana Hospital. “CP provides qualified community members with important access to health care services and can lower overall health care costs by reducing visits to the emergency department (ED) for non-emergency health issues.”

Within rural Champaign County, an aging population base and community members with chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and neurological and respiratory disorders struggle to access regular primary care and preventive services. Barriers to access include geographic distance, lack of transportation and financial challenges.

Regular and preventive care could help these community members manage their conditions before they need to seek costly emergency medical care for assistance and help them enjoy a better quality of life. Care access can also help lower the rate of hospital readmissions and ensure the emergency department and EMS are available to treat patients with life-threatening emergencies.

Emergency medicine providers at Urbana Hospital can refer patients who would benefit from access regular and preventative care to the CP program. Patients choose to participate. Referrals can include but are not limited to patients who:

  • Struggle to find transportation to their doctor appointments
  • Would benefit from understanding their medications and how they work together
  • Need assistance finding food
  • Have barriers to receiving healthcare
  • Need help managing chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure, COPD, diabetes and hypertension
  • Need follow up care for high-risk conditions to help prevent hospital readmission
  • Are at high risk for falls and need resources to help prevent frequent falls.
  • Need help determining if they would benefit from medical equipment

Additionally, the CP program will provide mental health referrals.

The program will initially support patients who live in the Urbana Fire Division district before rolling out county-wide.