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News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, February 6, 2014
Pilot program brings First Responders to patients’ homes

by Anne Berleant

Patients of Castine Community Health Center are now eligible for home visits as part of a Maine Emergency Medical Services pilot program.

“It’s really helping us zero in on the patients that need extra care,” said Carolyn Brouillard, clinical assistant at CCHC, a licensed EMT and volunteer First Responder in Castine.

Castine Fire and Rescue has received one of 12 licenses in the statewide Community Paramedicine pilot program. Its goal is to maintain and improve emergency services while providing increased attention to prevention, and maintenance, of chronic disease, according to a press release.

Community Paramedicine is a “part of the future of health care,” Dr. Marjorie Olivari stated in the press release.

The program is directed at patients discharged from the hospital or who frequently use ambulance services for emergency care, along with patients referred by Olivari.

Under the program, Olivari recommends CCHC patients for weekly visits from First Responders, who may provide services such as welfare/wellness checks, wound care, and general patient follow ups. It is intended as short-term or episodic care.

Six patients have participated in the program since it began in July, Brouillard said, and there is a waiting list. Home visits last until the patient’s health issue is resolved. The average, so far, has been for about six weeks.

Castine has around eight volunteer First Responders, some of whom are certified as basic or intermediate EMTs, Brouillard said. “Right now, everyone’s able to provide the level of care we’re giving. On some patients, we can give more advanced care…but we haven’t gotten into that yet.

“This is a new program, and we’re working it out,” she continued.

For example, when the power was still out on Christmas Eve, First Responders and Fire Department volunteers joined staff at the health clinic.

“There were patients Dr. Olivari was worried about. We sat in the clinic and IDed [about 50] people with Fire Chief [Randy Stearns] and Olivari,” Brouillard said.

That Christmas Eve effort started out of the Community Paramedicine program and grew, Brouillard said.

“As First Responders, we also have to step up to the requirements of the Fire Department.”

The Castine pilot program is generating interest across the state, she said, because it is the smallest of the 12 programs and the only one with volunteer First Responders.