Posted on October 02, 2017
The Wicomico County Health Department announced today that it has received a $95,000 grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), the mid-Atlantic region’s largest not-for-profit insurer. The one-year investment will support the Salisbury Wicomico Integrated Firstcare Team (SWIFT) – a collaboration between the County Health Department, Salisbury Emergency Medical Services and Peninsula Regional Medical Center.
Salisbury Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services (SFD EMS) receives more than 2,000 non-emergency calls for assistance every year. More than two-thirds of those calls result in transport to Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s (PRMC) Emergency/Trauma Center.
In an effort to reduce the over use of emergency services and improve access to preventative and primary care, the SWIFT team will target a population including roughly 500 frequent users, who call for non-emergency assistance at least five times over any six-month period. It is the goal of SWIFT to lessen users’ reliance on SFD EMS and PRMC for healthcare services that could be provided in a primary or specialty care setting.
“Rather than focusing on the traditional EMS role of emergency care, this collaborative healthcare team targets the social determinants of health, such as access to resources, food scarcity, transportation, social support, access to healthcare resources and health literacy,” said Lori Brewster, MS, APRN/BC, LCADC, Wicomico County Health Officer. “Statistics show that 40% of a community’s health is shaped by these social and economic determinants of health. This opportunity to focus on supporting the community members in their homes has great promise to improve health outcomes while reducing unnecessary utilization and cost.”
SFD EMS will serve as the day-to-day primary SWIFT lead, using a dedicated Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) who will also act as the point person to identify the long-term needs of patients, make necessary referrals, and ultimately enroll interested frequent users into the SWIFT program. Those individuals will receive regular in-home visits by the SWIFT team, which includes an EMT, a Nurse Practitioner from the Health Department and a Registered Nurse from PRMC. They will conduct vital signs checks, examinations for signs of abuse or neglect, provide healthcare education and assist with referral to a primary care physician, in-home care or other specialists if needed.
“Frequent users are not necessarily overusing the system by choice. They could very well be facing socio-economic and real-life challenges like abuse, neglect, a lack of education and/or transportation or a financial barrier that prevents them from connecting regularly with the appropriate forms of healthcare services,” said Kathryn Fiddler, DNP, RN, NE-BC, Executive Director of Population Health at PRMC. “Our ultimate goal is to break through and break down those barriers and reduce the number of unnecessary transports and hospital visits by at least 20% in the first year.”
The SWIFT team hopes to serve 100 people in year one and between 200-250 people over the course of its three years in operation. During this three year grant, the team hopes to educate the Salisbury community on the value of getting the right care in the right place and at the right time. This will ensure vital emergency services are available for those who need it and other less intensive, but important services, such as support for chronic disease, preventive care, and urgent care are also available for the community when they need it.
An added benefit of the SWIFT program will be an increase in awareness around the management of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke. The SWIFT team launched the new program on October 2.