Firefighters' House Calls Help Chronically-Ill In Arlington

An innovative program in Arlington is helping hundreds of patients with chronic conditions avoid costly re-admissions to the emergency room.

Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital has teamed up with Arlington Fire Department to send paramedics on home visits to patients who are at risk for not properly managing their condition after leaving the hospital.

Texas Health Arlington Memorial has seen between a 50 to 75 percent reduction in the number of ED or inpatient re-admissions since the program started three years ago.

"The idea is to improve their health care so that they don't return to the hospital and have a better quality of life," said Trent McNair, with Arlington Fire.

Patients who enroll in the program get routine visits and have around the clock access to a paramedic, seven days a week. They are given a specific number to call for non-emergency matters.

Veletta Richardson enrolled in the program after spending four days in the hospital due to COPD in October.

The paramedic team makes weekly visits to her home to check on her medication intake, nutrition, exercise and overall well-being.

"The first time they came, we went into my kitchen, looked in my cabinets," said Richardson, who adds that they taught her about the importance of a healthy sodium intake.

"Every time they come, they help me with something."

"People love it. They love us. They love having us come into their homes. That to me, it's a game-changer," said Jason Adams, an engineer/paramedic with the Arlington Fire Department and coordinator of the program.

The group of paramedics, known as the Arlington Community Healthcare Program (ACHP), receives additional training to help them assess and treat people with chronic illnesses, which often lead to frequent ED visits.

They are assigned to a Texas Health patient and provide at-home care, which will last a few months, as it's intended as a short-term care.

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