TOLEDO (WTVG) - The Toledo Fire & Rescue Department responds to tens of thousands of calls for medical service every year. Some of the callers don't need to go to the emergency room for treatment, so there's a new partnership between the department and Mercy Health to get the people the right help and save money.
It's called a Community Paramedic Program or CPP. ParaMed will be a pilot program to start out. If it gets the stamp of approval from Toledo City Council it could be up and running as early as next month. It will operate for six months and initially involve about twenty patients. After the six months are up, the program will be evaluated.
The goal is to make it a permanent part of the city.
Lt. Zakariya Reed of TFRD, says the department handled about 61,000 calls last year. The vast majority of them were for medical service, "The department has seen an increase in run volumes year after year. The need is growing faster than we re able to provide services for."
Lt. Reed says the goal is to cut down on the number of runs and get people the help they need, "We work on a limited budget We need to do what makes sense and get people the help they need at the same time."
That's where the Paramedicine program comes in. Julie Goins-Whitmore of Mercy Health says the goals are simple, "We are working to prevent unnecessary calls to 911. We also want to prevent unnecessary trips to the emergency room and re-admissions to the hospital."
The program is a collaboration between Mercy Health and the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department. It's paid for through the Mercy Health Foundation. While there are no costs to patients or the city of Toledo, Lt. Reed says there are plenty of savings, "For someone to be taken to the hospital by ambulance to be cared for because of a chronic disease is ten times more expensive than if you went to an urgent care by cab or a primary care physician."
Julie says the program will also help educate people about when to call 911. it will help connect them to resources in the community too for things like food, transportation to medical appointments, clothing and housing, "We are not only going to care for the patient in a medical capacity but also socially, which often drives a lot of medical issues."
According to Lt. Reed there's plenty of proof that these programs work.
He says Milwaukee, Wisconsin has a similar program and the city saw a 50% drop in calls from people who are part of it. So how do you become part of the Toledo program? Julie says it's from a referral,"We won't be accepting self or family referrals. We will be getting referrals from medical providers."
Because it involves a city department, council members will have to vote to approve the program. It's on the agenda next week.
According to TFRD, this program would be the first of its kind in a major Ohio fire department.