New Montana legislation enabling Community Integrated Healthcare Pilot Program

GREAT FALLS- With Senate Bill 38 passed, it's now opening the doors to a new pilot program allowing emergency medical services to provide what's called, Community Integrated Healthcare.

Great Falls Emergency Services say Community Integrated Healthcare is going to allow paramedics and emergency medical technicians to operate more as "primary caregivers" when taking care of patients.

Meaning give patients more care in non-emergency situations right then and there in places like your home versus having to take a trip to the ER. 

Emergency services are hoping the program's outcome goes like this. Think D-B-K-H-I.

D) Decrease high utilizers of 911

B) Bring down inpatient care cost

K) Keep patients healthier

H) Help rural Montana

I) Increase access to healthcare for homeless

"Little by little we're realizing EMT's and paramedics are medical providers that have a good level of medical expertise are completely mobile. Can go anywhere anytime unlike providers in a medical facility like a hospital are restricted to where their location is," Justin Grohs, EMT-P Great Falls EMS, Operation Manager.

These are the six places where the project pilot is running: 

-Great Falls: Great Falls Emergency Services

-Broadus: Jesse Ambulance

-Hamilton: Marcus Daly

-Rocky Boy: Rocky Boy EMS

-Red Lodge: Red Lodge Fire Department

-Glasgow: Frances Maho Deaconess Hospital

According to DPHHS, there's a shortage of volunteer EMT's and paramedics across Montana. 

Great Falls Emergency Services says this is saving the healthcare system money, in the long run, resulting in better patient care. 

In which medical issues are managed with scheduled visits with community paramedics at the home instead of waiting for the problem to progress to a 911 emergency. 

"A lot of Montana if not most of Montana is currently covered EMS wise by volunteers folks who are not EMT or paramedic as their regular job. They're a teacher, they work at the local hardware store, they run a business in their community,” said Grohs.

However, these volunteers have gone through training and carry a pager around. When something happens, they'll leave their jobs, and respond. The hope is the community paramedicines will take the heat off some of these demands.

In bigger cities, community paramedics are dispatched to certain types of non-urgent calls versus in an ambulance. 

Right now 911 calls will be handled as they always have been with a paramedic ambulance response. Folks who may have access to healthcare issues are encouraged to stop by St. Anne’s when the program starts in late September.

Great Falls EMS and Alluvion Health will be helping you set up doctor appointments while giving you check-ups. 

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