Governor Steve Bullock today announced that six EMS services in Montana will pilot a model of community-based healthcare designed to expand the role of EMS providers to deliver more effective and efficient non-emergency services.
The sites are Great Falls Emergency Services, Jesse Ambulance in Broadus, Marcus Daly in Hamilton, Rocky Boy EMS, Red Lodge Fire Department, and Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital in Glasgow.
“I applaud these communities for spearheading a new and innovative approach to engage first responders in delivering low-cost primary and preventative care,” Governor Bullock said. “Improving the health of Montanans in the comfort of their homes can prevent costly complications down the road.”
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) secured $300,000 in federal and private funding for the two-year pilot, which includes a grant from the Montana Healthcare Foundation. All six sites received $50,000 each to cover training and equipment expenses.
The new opportunity is the result of Senate Bill 38 that passed during the 2019 Legislative session. The bill, signed by Governor Bullock and sponsored by Senator Margaret MacDonald, creates a provider status enabling EMS to provide Community Integrated Healthcare (CIH).
CIH means the provision of non-emergency, out-of-hospital medical services that an emergency care provider with an endorsement may provide as determined by rules being adopted by the Board of Medical Examiners (BOME) of the Department of Labor and Industry. CIH is an evolving and innovative healthcare model which allows paramedics and emergency medical technicians to operate in expanded public health and primary care roles to help patients access more appropriate care in non-emergency situations than an ambulance transport and ER visit.
Staff with each site are currently undergoing accredited Community Paramedic Technician training delivered through Hennepin Technical College based in Minneapolis. EMS staff will be trained to provide an expanded range of services tailored for their own community’s needs. This may include wound care, post-hospitalization follow-up, medication set up, home safety checks and other services in the home.
“This is an excellent opportunity to implement a program that has shown to improve patient care, and also address challenges our EMS providers are facing,” said Justin Grohs of Great Falls Emergency Services, one of the site participants. “Our goal is to keep individuals in their home environment to improve health outcomes, remove barriers to health, and reduce unnecessary EMS transports and emergency room (ER) visits.”
“While the primary mission of EMS services has been to respond to 9-1-1 calls, many calls are for non-emergency events,” said Jim DeTienne, EMS and Trauma Systems Section Supervisor for DPHHS. “These non-emergency transports challenge Montana’s EMS services, which are struggling with limited staffing and resources, especially with volunteer services in rural communities.”
CIH programs across the country have demonstrated success in utilizing EMS responders integrated with the rest of the healthcare system to provide non-emergency and preventative care in a patient’s home to keep them healthier, at less cost, and a decreased strain on the emergency medical system.
DPHHS is working closely with the BOME to determine the education, curriculum, and scope of practice of community paramedics. SB 38 requires the BOME to create a CIH endorsement for EMTs and paramedics which defines their education and scope of practice. BOME, DPHHS, and numerous other stakeholders will develop education, medical oversite, data collection and funding to help assure emergency care provider services and EMS services are successful and sustainable.
For more information about CIH, visit the DPHHS’s EMS & Trauma Systems Program website at https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/EMSTS/cp.