Community paramedicine (CP) is a locally designed, community-based, collaborative model of care that leverages the skills of paramedics and emergency medical services (EMS) systems to take advantage of collaborations between EMS and other health care and social service providers. Community paramedics receive specialized training in addition to general paramedicine training and work within a designated program under local medical control as part of a community-based team of health and social services providers.
The California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA), working in partnership with the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), is conducting 13 community paramedicine pilot projects in a dozen California locations. The projects focus on providing services where access to health care is limited or when a short-term intervention is needed. California’s two-year project began in 2015 (PDF) and allows organizations to test and evaluate new or expanded roles for paramedics along with health care delivery alternatives. The California project was authorized by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development’s (OSHPD) Health Workforce Pilot Project Program in 2014.
In partnership with CHCF, EMSA hosted a symposium on September 22, 2016, that featured presenters on topics including financial sustainability, data evaluations, and discussions of individual pilot sites. To open the event, Sandra Shewry, CHCF’s vice president of external engagement, explained the foundation’s support for the pilot projects to demonstrate how community paramedicine reduces demand for emergency room and hospital admissions.
Community paramedicine is an innovative and evolving model of community-based health care designed to provide more effective and efficient services at a lower cost. Community paramedicine allows paramedics to function outside their traditional emergency response and transport roles to help facilitate more appropriate use of emergency care resources while enhancing access to primary care for medically underserved populations.
Community paramedics are licensed paramedics who have received specialized training in addition to general paramedicine training and work within a designated community paramedicine program under local medical control as part of a local team of health and social services providers. Paramedics are uniquely positioned for expanded roles, as they are geographically dispersed in nearly all communities, inner-city and rural; always available; work in home- and community-based settings; are trusted and accepted by the public; are trained to make health status assessments; recognize and manage life-threatening conditions outside of the hospital; and operate under medical control as part of an organized, systems approach to care.
Lou Meyer is project manager of the California EMS Authority’s Community Paramedicine Pilot Project and functions as the EMS Authority’s POLST eRegistry Coordinator. Lou previously served as senior vice president of operations for the Emergency Medical Services Corp., the nation’s largest provider of emergency ambulance and emergency physician services. For more than 17 years, he served on the California Emergency Medical Services Commission, including chairing the commission from 1995 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2007.