Midland Community Healthcare Program helps decrease misuse of 911

Midland Community Healthcare Program helps decrease misuse of 911

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - In 2015, a community health program was created by the Midland Fire Department in conjunction with Midland Memorial Hospital. The goal is to help at risk people with health care and their medications so they don't call 911 when they don't need to.

Since then, the department has seen a 50 percent decrease in 911 calls.

Saving lives is a paramedics every day job, but they often don't know where the people they take care of end up.

"I get to have an actual impact on their every day life, instead of the worst day of their life," said EMT Dustin Beauchamp.

Now, they do.

"I give them the most problems," said Helen Burnett, a 72-year-old patient.

Burnett is one of 30 patients enrolled in the fire departments community health program.

Before enrolling, she along with many elderly Midlanders used 911 for health issues that weren't emergencies.

"They come and see me first rather than me having to call 911," said Burnett.

Since the beginning of the program, there has been a 50% decrease in emergency calls by this targeted population.

"This program has opened my eyes. It's not just that they want to call 911 or they want to go the emergency room. What I've found out is they just don't have any other option," said Johnny Flitton, a Physician Assistant with the program.

A team of two medics and Flitton go out to 5 or 6 patient's homes a day to check on them. Many are lower income.

"We see them once week. If at any time they kind of relapse back and start using the emergency room or 911, then we put them back on a weekly visit," said Flitton.

The program is about offering another service in replace of emergency response, but the medics have found something deeper and rewarding: building relationships with the community.

"You can call them and they will be right there to take you," said Burnett.

Many of the current patients are referred after they are discharged from the hospital or if they make repeated 911 calls for non-emergencies, but anyone can sign up.

Call the Midland Central Fire Station for information at (432) 685-7330.

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