Community paramedicine is a locally designed health care model in which paramedics and emergency medical services (EMS) systems collaborate with other health care and social service agencies to provide patients with the right care at the right time. California community paramedics receive extra training, and work under local medical control in six different models in 12 existing pilot programs statewide.
Dr. Kevin Mackey, a paramedic turned emergency physician, designed and implemented the model in Stanislaus County. The project employs community paramedics who assess patients with mental health conditions and, when possible, connect them to treatment resources faster than if they were transported to a hospital emergency department (ED). Patients enrolled in Medi-Cal or who are uninsured and who pass medical and mental health assessments can be taken directly to a mental health facility without having to stop first at an ED, saving time and resources. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.