LAKEWOOD, Ohio – Lakewood EMS last year responded to more than 650 calls from seniors injured in falls. More than half of these incidents were serious enough to require transport to a hospital or emergency room.
With preventative efforts and care in mind, the city is taking a proactive approach designed to reduce 911 ambulance calls and local health care costs by hiring a neighborhood paramedic.
“This aligns with a gap in our health and wellness delivery to Lakewood residents,” Mayor Meghan George said. “Back when we had a health department, we actually had nurses working for the city who would provide some of those services that the neighborhood paramedic program will now implement.”
Lakewood EMS veteran Mike Sanders was recently named the neighborhood paramedic. His salary is budgeted by the fire department with a special duty increase.
The neighborhood paramedic program begins with a focus on falls prevention for seniors. George said many EMS calls were for repeat calls. The new program is expected to reduce first responder costs.
During visits with the elderly, Sanders will highlight the STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries) protocol.
“The neighborhood paramedic will go and audit the seniors’ home for proper handrails, poor lighting, obstacles, tripping hazards and the condition of the stairs,” said George. “The goal is to prevent falls from happening in the future.”
The city is using a $70,000 grant from the Healthy Lakewood Foundation (HLF) to help cover start-up costs associated with the neighborhood paramedic program. This includes the purchase of a vehicle.
“HLF seeks to address the systems that impact the health of our community,” said Kate Ingersoll, executive director of the Healthy Lakewood Foundation, in a press release.
“Through this program, we are focusing on the conditions that cause falls in older adults. We believe this will facilitate ER admissions and simultaneously improve the health and safety of our elderly residents.
In the future, the neighborhood paramedic program could be expanded to many different areas including blood pressure, blood sugar testing, safety checks for pregnant women, new parents, home/nearby vaccinations and emergency preparedness education.
The expansion decision is tied to the city’s current community health needs assessment.
“The Neighborhood Paramedic Program model has been proven to have an impressive impact in other communities,” Lakewood Fire Chief Tim Dunphy said in a news release. “We took ideas from others and adapted our program to meet the unique needs of Lakewood.
“We are all excited to launch this program and believe it will make a big difference in helping preventative care.”
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