Service Partnership Saves 911 Resources

by Mike Hunter

911-emergencyA service partnership between Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department and Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital is not only making a significant impact on patient care, it’s reducing the number of 911 calls from people who may not require emergency services.

Formed to address repeat 911 calls from chronically ill patients who may not require emergency services, a Patient Advocacy Service has reduced the strain on 911 resources while providing patient-centered care and medical management services. Since the partnership was first piloted in 2013, the PAS has served more than 100 Tempe residents.

The service has dramatically reduced costs to the system and freed up TFMRD to assist in emergencies across the city. Prior to the inception of this service, the teams from TFMRD and Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital calculated that ambulance, emergency department and treatment fees from chronically ill individuals (who sought 911 services three or more times within a nine-month period) topped $732,000. Today, that cost has drastically decreased as a number of patients have become increasingly self-sufficient through the PAS. Patients have been trained by the PAS team to call 911 only in cases of legitimate life-threatening emergencies.

The PAS has several active teams that are trained to serve patients. A three-person team consisting of TFMRD- and TSLH-registered nurses and TFMRD medics, who have a strong clinical background and experience in extracting extensive patient history, make patient visits. And TFMRD spokesperson Kellie Sullivan says, “We’re working to enhance the suite of services that the PAS offers.”

“Our goal in creating this kind of community paramedicine program is to connect chronically ill patients with resources that will help them achieve and maintain their independence,” says Sheila Bryant, pre-hospital coordinator at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital. “The increase in coordination among healthcare providers is reducing the burden on the 911 system, yet it still provides support services for patient care. The reduced number of calls coming in to 911 from repeat patients is a strong indicator that this program is working.”

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