NTX Magazine Volume 9 - Page 38

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT Dallas Fire-Rescue finds innovative ways to improve community health Several years ago, Dallas Fire-Rescue noted that a steady increase in 9-1-1 call volume was outpacing the growth of resources. A close look at the data showed a subset of callers using the service frequently for non-emergency situations. Inspired by the MedStar collaborative in Tarrant County and other programs throughout the country, DFR embarked on creating a program aimed at reducing 9-1-1 calls from high-frequency patients by helping them improve their overall quality of life. Dallas Fire-Rescue understood that high-frequency patients often suffer from social issues, unmet mental health needs and symptoms from chronic medical conditions. In partnership with community agencies and healthcare providers, DFR created a program to teach greater independence through resource management and problem-solving skills. Five skilled firefighter 36 WWW.NTC-DFW.ORG SUMMER 2018 paramedics were selected and trained, and by 2014, the City of Dallas launched Phase One of the Mobile Community Healthcare Program. Today, seven Community Paramedics and one supervisor work exclusively in this free, opt-in program. CPs visit with high-frequency patients in their homes several times over a 90-day period. They conduct home safety assessments and work with participants to design a care plan for their specific needs. Those participants who complete the Mobile Community Healthcare Program curriculum in 90 days receive a “certificate of independence.” For on-going support, participants and graduates can call a direct line, rather than 9-1-1, to speak to a Community Paramedic. All told, the number of calls made to 9-1-1 by Mobile Community Healthcare Program graduates has decreased by 80 percent. Now in Phase Two, the program is expanding through several unique partnerships. UT Southwestern, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, and others are helping DFR identify high-frequency emergency room patients so that they may also be served by the Mobile Community Healthcare Program. Launched earlier this year, the new Right Care program employs a unique team approach in response to patients experiencing mental health emergencies. The Right Care program, one of only two like it in the country, brings together the expertise of mental health, EMS and public safety professionals. A mental health expert works alongside 9-1-1 dispatchers to assess individual calls. In situations when a caller is experiencing mental health issues but is not in imminent danger, rather than dispatching several police officers, 9-1-1 sends a specially-trained team including a Parkland social worker, a Dallas Police officer and a paramedic. Not only is the response team very effective in serving the patient’s needs in a safe and holistic way, but the approach frees up ambulance, police and fire department personnel often needed elsewhere in the city. Stronger Together: