Community paramedic program in Stanly County to get additional position

Published 12:39 pm Friday, January 6, 2023

The Stanly County Board of Commissioners approved unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting the addition of a community paramedic position.

With the board’s approval, Stanly now has four community paramedics serving the community. The program for community paramedics, first created to help stem Stanly’s opioid problems, has expanded to assist high acuity patients.

Patients in the high acuity category require frequent observations to ensure that their conditions get better.

Emergency Management Services Director Dale Chandler made the presentation to the board Tuesday. He mentioned patients who have conditions such as congestive heart failure, cardiovascular surgery, heart attack, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, strokes and substance use disorder qualify to be seen by a community paramedic.

Included in the agenda packet was a memorandum of understanding between Stanly EMS and Atrium Stanly/Atrium Cabarrus. The memo stated paramedics work with high acuity patients to reduce hospital readmission and emergency department overcrowding, improve patient compliance with medications and discharge instructions and increase health awareness and safety prevention.

Community paramedics will assess home safety, take vitals and perform other point of care needs for the patient.

Atrium Health will pay $510 to the county for each patient referred to the community paramedic program. The funding from Atrium will fund the fourth position. Two others are funded by a Blue Cross Blue Shield grant and one is funded through opioid settlement funds.

Chandler said in 2021 out of 97 patients seen by community paramedics, two were readmitted for different health reasons and one for the same medical problem, about 1%.

He said Medicare and Medicaid will not pay for this.

“It’s an evolving model with the federal government,” he said. “Currently, there is really no good revenue stream for community paramedic visits without incurring a cost on the patient themselves. At the end of the day, we are actually saving the hospital money, so we got them to pony up a little bit of money to help us fund our program to save them money in the long run.”

Chandler said the most any patient has had to be seen is three times, mostly for drawing blood or for a lag of picking up insurance coverage for home health care.

The contract is valid through June 2025.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

email author More by Charles