Small Vehicle Making a Big Impact

You’ve probably seen the van. Driving around town with the familiar emergency medicine and hospital logos. It’s not quite big enough to be an ambulance. It’s not quite a car. What is it? It’s Community Paramedicine – a new evolving health care model that began formally in the United States in 2012 – and for the last year has been working to improve the overall health of the Fayette County community.

Through community paramedicine Fayette County Memorial Hospital (FCMH) is able to target patients with high risk conditions who have a history of repeated emergency department usage in order to connect them to more appropriate resources. The emergency room and providers at FCMH Medical & Surgical Associates contact the community paramedic to follow up with patients who need help sorting through their prescriptions, or making sure they have follow up appointments scheduled or adaptive equipment needed to recover from their injury or procedure.

Tony Kegg serves as Fayette County’s community paramedic. His smile and personality are perfect for the calm, gentle yet informative presence that is required for the task at hand. He has been with the Fayette County EMS since 2008 and was approached by FCMH Drs. Johnson and Hill who thought the program would be a great fit for the community. “The physicians and the senior leadership of the hospital have been very forward thinking and big proponents of this program,” said Kegg. “Community Paramedicine will play an important role in the future of healthcare.”

Kegg is very passionate about his job and the patients he sees, and is proud of the assistance he is able to provide. “I had one patient who has been to the emergency department over 30 times in six months,” said Kegg. “We were able to reduce that to ten visits, reducing the patient’s overall cost for care by sixty percent.” According to Kegg the average emergency department visit is $1,300. The patient benefits by not having to leave home while at the same time receiving increased monitoring of their case. The hospital gains by keeping beds and staff available for those patients who are in the midst of a serious emergency.

“Obviously our emergency department is always here for anyone who has a need. Our goal with Community Paramedicine is to make sure patients receive the proper level of care in the best setting. Through this program we are able to support those who may need a little extra help sorting through their medications and discharge instructions while we coordinate necessary but non emergent follow-up with a family physician,” said FCMH CEO Mike Diener.

At some point patients may “graduate” from the program. At that point the goal is for the patient to have more knowledge of their own health, a connection with a primary provide, and a better understanding of the healthcare system and what outlets are available for care.

Edwin Robinett is one such patient. After having an eye procedure, Robinett was having difficulty with the medicated eye drops he needed. “Tony came, he put eye drops in my eyes for me, sometimes twice a day. He helped me fill out papers and called different places for me,” said Robinett. “He was always here when he said he would be and he really took good care of me.”

Since last August Kegg made a total of 386 home visits. “I really like being able to be there for the patients, because they are so appreciative of having someone check on them. We have a lot of seniors who live alone and they are so grateful to have someone check on them once or twice a week, answer their questions and help with their needs.”

The next time you see the paramedicine van, be sure to give Tony a wave and know that he is out there creating lasting change in the community.