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Racine Fire Department and local hospital team up to cut down on 911 calls/ER visits

Posted at 6:07 PM, Dec 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-05 19:30:31-05

A unique partnership between the Racine Fire Department and Ascension All Saints Hospital was created to cut back on emergency calls and ER visits.

Racine Mobile Integrated Health, MIH, is a pilot program aimed to keep patients in their homes and out of the hospital.

Paramedics visited patients who recently got out of the hospital like 94-year-old Emily Papara.  

"I mean yah know when I came home from the hospital I was kind of scared to death," said Papara.

Papara welcomes the help.

"I thought 'oh my God am I ever lucky'," she said.

Mark Villalpando, the Division Chief of Emergency Medical Services for Racine Fire Department, said the department is on record pace for emergency calls.  They have had more than 11,000 calls this year, that's up from five to seven percent from 2017. Eighty-seven percent of those calls are medical.  

The fire department hopes MIH helps slow down the call volume.

"We can send a crew, non-emergency, to the house to help the patient with the individual problem that they're having at the time versus them calling 911 and having to transport them to the hospital," said Villalpando. 

Nine paramedics are splitting time between house visits and regular shift calls so they don't take resources away from emergency needs.  

"Right now if we have a little extra staffing for the day one of our Mobile Integrated Health community paramedics will go on home visits, otherwise we call somebody in for a couple hours of overtime," said Villalpando. 

The manager for Cardiovascular Outpatient Services at Ascension All Saints, Lisa Guerrero, said the program works because of the relationships between patients and paramedics.

"We had the paramedics actually come to the patients' hospital rooms while they're here in the hospital and then they continue to see the patients until they're discharged," said Guerrero. "And then once they're discharged they follow the patients home."

The pilot program focused on patients with heart problems.  The hospital hopes to grow the program to incorporate patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and behavioral health issues.

Guerrero said only one of the 48 patients in the program was readmitted for an unavoidable illness. 

The 60-day pilot MIH is over, but the Racine Fire Department is trying to continue the program.  They will need to add 11 to 16 paramedics in order to run Racine Mobile Integrated Health long term.