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    Eagle, Colorado 81631
    Phone: 970-328-8840

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    El Jebel, Colorado 81623
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County and WECAD launch community paramedic pilot program

Contact: Anne Robinson, Public Health Nurse Manager, 970-748-2005, anne.robinson@eaglecounty.us or
              Chris Montera, Chief Eagle County Western Eagle County Ambulance District, 970-328-1130, cmontera@wecadems.com  

Through a collaborative effort between Eagle County’s Public Health Department and the Western Eagle County Ambulance District (WECAD), a new community paramedic pilot program is being launched that will provide better, more cost-effective access to essential healthcare services. As part of the community paramedic model, patients are referred to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel by their primary care physician to receive services in the home, including hospital discharge follow-up, blood draws, medication reconciliation and wound care. The program is the first of its kind in the state and officially begins on Aug. 17.

Currently, Colorado Mountain Medical, Eagle Care, Eagle Valley Medical Center, Vail Valley Medical Center and Valley View Hospitals’ primary care physicians are committed to the pilot and will begin referring patients immediately. The program will initially serve individuals within the WECAD district, which encompasses 1,100 square miles in western Eagle County and eastern Garfield County.

Future expansion is a possibility, according to Chris Montera, WECAD Chief. “Geographically speaking, we live in an area that would greatly benefit from this program. Many of our most vulnerable patients live miles away from the hospital, it can be difficult or costly for them to find transportation for regular visits or routine checkups,” said Montera.

Patients will not be charged for services during the pilot. Funding includes approximately $500,000 in grant money, with $225,000 from the Colorado Health Foundation. Anne Robinson, Public Health Nurse Manager with Eagle County, says the grants will cover two years of operation without reimbursement. “During the five-year pilot program, Eagle County will serve as a test case for the State of Colorado,” said Robinson. “We expect to collect enough compelling data to petition to have the program reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers,” she said.

The program will initially operate with two specially-trained community paramedics who will coordinate with the referring physician to ensure quality of care and appropriate oversight. In addition, paramedics will work with Eagle County’s Public Health Department to provide preventative services throughout the community.

"The key to the success of the program will be the integration of all healthcare entities, so that we can give the best possible care to all patients," said Robinson. “This model for healthcare has resulted in tremendous benefits in other communities, including reduced emergency room visits and high levels of patient satisfaction.”

The launch will follow this week’s 6th Annual International Roundtable on Community Paramedicine, taking place today through Wednesday at Manor Vail Lodge in Vail. Approximately 100 attendees from around the world will discuss major trends and topics in paramedicine, including the community paramedic model. “We are excited to host those on the forefront of paramedicine in our valley, especially with the launch of our own leading-edge program so close,” said Robinson. For more information, contact Robinson at 970-748-2005 or Montera at 328-1130.