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State grant fuels PARAMED at Effingham Health System
PARAMED will work on a referral basis from medical providers, Effingham Health Systems Emergency Room, local EMS and EHS patient advocates. - photo by Submitted

SPRINGFIELD — What if a simple visit from a healthcare team could help a person struggling to manage a chronic illness stay healthier — or ”compliant” as physicians call it — avoiding costly rides in an ambulance, multiple trips to the ER, and repeated hospital admissions that many patients cannot afford?
With the recent launch of PARAMED, Effingham Health System (EHS) is embarking on a new journey to address this need, filling the gap between providers and their patients. PARAMED will provide health and wellness checks by an RN, a certified paramedic, or an EMT, for referred patients who are a fit for the program. The program will be managed by Amy White, RN,EMT-P (paramedic), community paramedicine project manager.
“This is a win-win for our patients and community, which is what it is all about, ” explained Fran Baker-Witt, CEO of Effingham Health System. “It delivers optimal health outcomes for patients — through Outreach.”
Baker-Witt on to explain that maintaining compliance with treatment programs is critical for these patients. It translates to fewer ER visits and hospital admissions.
Compliance with treatment programs can extend life expectancy and improve quality of life for chronically ill patients. The PARAMED team will seek to understand the underlying issues on why patients are not in compliance, looking for the gaps each patient is experiencing and connecting them with community resources that can help fulfill those needs.
PARAMED will work on a referral basis from medical providers, Effingham Health System’s Emergency Room, local EMS and EHS patient advocates. Since demand is expected to be high, priority will be given for those high-risk patients who struggle the most to maintain control.
“There is a distinct advantage to building relationships,” explained White. “Our care will focus on education, wellness, prevention, and connecting patients with community resources.”
Fewer visits to the ER, many of which are not covered by insurance, will also help Effingham Health System reduce unreimbursed costs for care. EHS currently provides $15 million in care for indigent, charity and unreimbursed care. $3.6 million of that is reimbursed by Effingham County, leaving a $11.4 million deficit.
This program is made possible by a Rural Hospital Stabilization Project Grant from the Georgia Department of Community Health. Included in the grant is a PARAMED vehicle.