Southern Tier Health Care System

While the prime responsibility of EMS providers is to stabilize patients in crisis and transport them to the hospital, community paramedicine enhances their role to include community-based health care delivery—allowing them to respond to chronic disease management and quality-of-life issues without diverting resources away from emergency medical services.

This type of in-home service is needed, especially in rural areas of New York State like the Southern Tier. Older adults comprise close to 20% of the State’s population, and the number of older New Yorkers living below the poverty line increased by 37% over the past decade. In rural health care shortage areas with insufficient health care providers and facilities, residents often encounter long travel times, a lack of transportation options, and extended appointment wait times. In the Southern Tier, these barriers have led to higher emergency department use and calls to 911 for non-urgent needs. In 2024, NYHealth awarded Southern Tier Health Care System (STHCS) a grant to develop and test a community paramedicine program to provide at-home health services and coordinate care with local providers in the Southern Tier.

Under this grant, STHCS will lay the groundwork for the paramedicine program, identifying patients who would benefit from coordinated and continuous care outside of a hospital setting and deploying trained community paramedics. Once dispatched to a home, the paramedics will assess each patient’s basic physical, mental, and emotional health; conduct non-medical health screenings; and facilitate primary care and social services referrals. With guidance from the patient’s medical provider, the paramedics will review patients’ medication lists, reconcile discrepancies, and provide education on proper medication usage, potential side effects, and the importance of adhering to prescribed regimens. The paramedics will also offer personalized education on self-monitoring and disease management techniques and participate in workshops and community education events to raise awareness about common health issues, prevention, and available community resources. STHCS will collect and analyze data on program activities, patient outcomes, and resource utilization to assess the program’s impact, identify areas for improvement, and support an ongoing funding model.

 

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