Aurora West Allis Medical Center and the West Allis Fire Department launched a community paramedic program to help reduce hospital readmission for senior citizens in the Milwaukee suburb. This is the first of its kind in the area.
With the Transition in Care initiative, paramedics will make home visits to recently discharged, high risk patients from Aurora West Allis Medical Center to ensure they understand their medications, instructions from physicians, and conduct an overall assessment of the patient’s health and living environment.
Aurora West Allis Medical Center will make referrals of recently discharged patients to the West Allis Fire Department who could benefit from a home visit, based on the likelihood of readmission and historic indicators. Community paramedics will then visit patients and report the visit and any key findings to the transitions registered nurse at Aurora West Allis Medical Center.
All information will be added to the patient’s electronic medical record at the Aurora West Allis Medical Center, and each patient in the program can expect at least one home visit in their first weeks home from the hospital to ensure a smooth transition.
Transition in Care will be led by Transition in Care registered nurses from the Aurora West Allis Medical Center, who will work with specially trained community paramedics from the West Allis Fire Department. These individuals have recently participated in community-based health care curriculum at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing.
The program between the hospital and the fire department is part of a larger strategy to build a healthier and stronger community.
The Transition in Care program will be open to any resident of the city of West Allis ages 65 and older who have been assigned to a transition nurse and are discharged home or to an assisted living environment. All participation will be voluntary.
“The Transition in Care program, working with the West Allis Fire Department, builds on our rich history of working closely with our community partners throughout West Allis,” said Rick Kellar, president of Aurora West Allis Medical Center.
The West Allis Fire Department implemented an initial community paramedic program in January 2015, when they began meeting with patients who recently were discharged and providing at home services.
After some 124 home visits with 29 patients, the fire department saw an 86 percent decrease in low-acuity 911 calls, or non-vital calls to emergency respondents, and a 71 percent decrease in visits to Aurora West Allis Medical Center’s emergency department.
Aurora West Allis Medical Center will compensate the fire department on a per-visit basis, and data will be collected over time to ensure key metrics are met, including reducing unnecessary emergency room visits and 911 calls.
The concept is similar to other initiatives implemented in places like Boston, Massachusetts and Dallas, Texas that have seen a dramatic decrease in both 911 call volume and expensive, unnecessary visits to local hospitals.