Dayton-Premier Program Reduces Repeat 911 Calls and ER Visits

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Ambulance rides can be very expensive. PERSONAL

Ambulance rides can be very expensive. PERSONAL

EMS runs in the city are up 6% this year through the end of April, compared to the same time last year, according to data from the Dayton Fire Department.

2017 was the last time the department ran more errands during this time, and it was a record year for emergency calls. Overdoses and the opioid epidemic were largely to blame.

Despite the overall increase in medical visits, firefighters say the city’s partnership program with Premier Health focused on frequent 911 calls and emergency room visitors is achieving its goal of reducing medical contact with these individuals.

The Community Paramedicine Program is sending a team to meet with patients who have been referred by emergency doctors, primary care providers or paramedics, said Ben Sutherly, a spokesman for Premier Health.

The team visits patients in their homes to help them better manage their health before an emergency strikes and also connects them to services, he said.

Community Paramedics Nathan Pulliam and Kendra Harris provide personalized health and wellness support at Dayton Residence in their homes. The Community Paramedicine program began in 2019 and is a partnership between Premier Health and the City of Dayton Fire Department.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Community Paramedics Nathan Pulliam and Kendra Harris provide personalized health and wellness support at Dayton Residence in their homes.  The Community Paramedicine program began in 2019 and is a partnership between Premier Health and the City of Dayton Fire Department.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Community Paramedics Nathan Pulliam and Kendra Harris provide personalized health and wellness support at Dayton Residence in their homes. The Community Paramedicine program began in 2019 and is a partnership between Premier Health and the City of Dayton Fire Department.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

The program serves up to 20 people at a time, Sutherly said, and patients exit the program once health goals set by their care team are met.

The program targets people who frequently call 911 for medical services or who visit emergency rooms and departments at high rates.

Data shared by the city and premier when the program launched showed that about 300 people in Dayton had called 911 for medical reasons at least 10 times in the previous two years.

A woman sought help 66 times during this period, and this small group of patients represented more than 4,600 medical contacts.

Dayton firefighters and EMS crews respond to an incident on East Third Street in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Dayton firefighters and EMS crews respond to an incident on East Third Street in downtown Dayton.  CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Dayton firefighters and EMS crews respond to an incident on East Third Street in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The two-person community paramedic team served more than 100 people, and emergency room visits and EMS requests were down 38% for patients enrolled in the program, according to Premier Health and firefighters.

The paramedic team offers home safety checks, medication and prescription assistance, referrals to primary care physicians, and connects patients with resources that can help with medical insurance, utilities, rent, clothing, food and transportation, Captain French said.

The team, made up of an emergency medical technician and a paramedic, spends an average of 55 days with patients in the program.

“The team was able to help a patient navigate the healthcare system to get a referral to a specialist in Cincinnati, which significantly reduced their use of the system,” he said.

The program – funded by Premier Health and the Good Samaritan Foundation – Dayton – is funded until the end of this year.

Premier Health says no decision has been made on whether to continue the program. French said the city and premier are actively discussing the next steps for the program.

Dayton Fire Department doctors prepare to transport an overdosed patient who was resuscitated with Narcan to a hospital emergency department in October 2016. CHRIS STEWART/STAFF

Dayton Fire Department doctors prepare to transport an overdosed patient who was resuscitated with Narcan to a hospital emergency department in October 2016. CHRIS STEWART/STAFF

Dayton Fire Department doctors prepare to transport an overdosed patient who was resuscitated with Narcan to a hospital emergency department in October 2016. CHRIS STEWART/STAFF

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein recently said the city will analyze the data and perform a cost-benefit analysis of the program.

“It’s not a widely used program, but it has had an impact on … people who use 911 as a provider of medical care,” she said.

If the data indicates the program is working and worth the cost, the city might consider partnering with other health care providers to expand these services, Dickstein said.

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