Southwestern District Health Unit

Report date
September 2016

What has been most instrumental to your progress?

Four paramedics have completed their classroom training, 1 is a fully certified paramedic, 1 is in the process of completing their hands on training and 2 have since dropped out. We have a coordinator in place. Without this program, no additional staff would have been able to be hired or trained to fill gaps in our rural SW North Dakota communities.
This program has allowed us to have a formalized process for medical entities to request the paramedic. The process is coordinated through Southwestern District Health Unit. When a medical provider needs the paramedic, the request is sent to the health unit, and the coordinator works with the Paramedic on getting the appropriate care to the patient. The grant has also allowed a mechanism of medical charting that the paramedic can use on site.
We have been able to implement the Community Paramedic (CP) Program to the medical providers, which officially started March 1, 2016. At this time 1 CP has been able to provide services to 14 clients, who would of otherwise not been able to get the home care they needed. The clients served have been an assortment of medical issues such as client assessment, medication review and set-up, wound care, mental health, asthma etc. Requests continue to come in. Without the grant none of this process would have taken place.

Key lessons learned

We continue to develop partnerships with medical entities. The biggest thing that has been learned is how important this program is, because the need is great. We know the demand is great, the process works, but more CP are needed.
We continue to struggle with getting the "hands on" training that the paramedics need to complete their training. The distance is extremely far away. The other challenge is that North Dakota has a shortage of General Paramedics, which is why the other two have dropped out. We will continue to go in the direction of community paramedics, and are working with the state of ND to bring legislature to help community paramedics be able to get reimbursement for services. We are also working on a process of Agencies possibly do fee for service.

Reflections on inclusive, collaborative or resourceful problem-solving

I believe increasing collective understating and generating ideas to address problems was most important. Without partners coming to the table, working together, coming up with ideas, and working together on solutions, the community paramedic program would not have been started. Without the grant funds, implementation would also, not have even been possible.

Other key elements of Community Innovation

I think the partnership between public health, private ambulance, and medical providers would not be at the level it is without this grant. Also, coming up with a medical reporting process that can work on site for paramedics also was invaluable to implement as the program has gone forward.

Understanding the problem

We are closer than we were because the program is established, the process is in place, and sustainability plans are being worked on. Hopefully, legislation will provide a way for long-term sustainability.

If you could do it all over again...

We continue to learn that starting a new program takes an incredible amount of planning, patience, and flexibility. You also need to think outside the box if initial plans you have in place need to be adjusted. It is extremely important to have an overall coordinator.

One last thought

We cannot stress enough the importance of grant opportunities such as this one. Without this grant, this program would still be a dream