Holyoke EMS broadening mission with community paramedicine program

    Beyond their role in trauma care, paramedics and emergency room staff are responsible for filling the gaps in America’s primary care system. This goes double for low-income and rural communities where preventative and specialty care isn’t always accessible.
    But paramedics can only do so much in the field, and ambulance costs may be foisted onto the hospital in the event that a patient is unable to pay.
    Community paramedicine is an international movement that looks to give paramedics the training and freedom to perform medical interventions, which could save hospital resources while supplementing the work of doctors and nurses.
    Now, Melissa Memorial Hospital in Holyoke is looking to establish a community paramedicine program of its own with the help of federal grant funding through Colorado Rural Health Center, the state’s rural health office, and the guidance of community paramedicine pioneers Christopher and Anne Montera of Eagle County.
    The husband and wife team, along with Ron Seedorf of the Colorado Rural Health Center, and Brady Ring and Lisa Werts of Holyoke EMS, met with stakeholders Feb. 1 to review MMH’s progress toward establishing the program.
    Seedorf explained that CRHC picked Holyoke as its grantee on the basis of hospital quality and talks with Ring and MMH CEO Trampas Hutches.
    “We had the chance of going anywhere in the state,” he said. “I felt very strongly that it had to be here.”
    The grant, which is earmarked for rural EMS sustainability, will go toward costs for implementing the program, including hiring the Monteras as subject matter experts.
    Christopher echoed Seedorf’s statement and expressed a high level of confidence in Dr. Rebecca Moore’s ability to serve as the program’s medical director.
    “If we were to draw the perfect community in my mind, this is it,” he said.
    Christopher is CEO of the Eagle County Health Service District, including Eagle County Paramedic Services, which established the first rural community paramedicine program in the United States in 2009.
    The Monteras have since been closely involved in EMS policymaking at the state and national levels. Among other positions, Anne is vice chairperson of the National EMS Advisory Council, which advises the federal government on issues related to emergency medicine. Christopher advocated on behalf of Colorado’s Senate Bill 16-069, which allows community paramedics to perform medical procedures in the field.

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