When paramedic Kevin Springer pulls up in front of the home of Virginia Simko in Greenville, his lights aren’t flashing; there’s no emergency. He’s at her home for a routine visit as part of Charles A. Dean Memorial Hospital’s (CA Dean) Community Paramedicine program. “With Virginia and the other patients I see, I have to make a phone call so they can prepare with coffee and donuts before I get there,” Kevin said with a slight laugh.
CA Dean’s service was one of a dozen approved by the Maine Legislature in 2012 as part of a pilot program to improve healthcare access in rural communities. Community paramedics are paramedics who have an expanded role to provide care at home to patients who may not qualify for traditional home healthcare visits. Some of the services they provide free of charge include: routine wellness checks, medication management assistance, wound care, blood and specimen collection, post-hospital discharge follow-up, home fall and safety assessments, and chronic disease management. “The idea of the program is to keep patients out of the hospital. We see patients in the comfort of their own homes and we work closely with their physicians,” Kevin said.
In addition to providing quality care close to home, the service is also designed to reduce unnecessary emergency room visits. Patients can get a referral for the service from their primary care physician, hospital discharge planners, care transition teams, emergency room staff, or nurse case managers. Kevin says he enjoys visiting people for non-emergency care and definitely sees a value in helping patients stay healthy. He says the fringe benefits aren’t bad either. “Getting out to see patients like Virginia puts a smile on my face every day, and sometimes I even get coffee and donuts.”
For more information on the C.A. Dean Paramedicine Program, you can call 207-695-5282.