In Washoe County, nearly 30% of the calls to the medical 911 center are for first aid level care – things like toothaches, rashes and sprained ankles. Though not all calls require a trip to the emergency room, REMSA Health says that people’s health and wellness still require care, which is why it has changed the way their team responds to medical 911 calls.
In addition to providing its regular emergency medical care and transport, REMSA Health directs people to the right level of care, both over the phone or when paramedics arrive on-site. Some people may need an emergency response and transportation, while others can be connected to telehealth, urgent care or transferred to a registered nurse for guidance on self-care at home.
This short video explains these changes quickly and easily. An interactive tool at choosetherightcare.com is also available to help visitors understand the different levels of care based on different scenarios and is available in English and Spanish.
“Previously, our paramedics really only had one option and that was to transport people to an emergency room,” said Adam Heinz, Executive Director of Integrated Healthcare at REMSA Health. “Now, we have ae protocols to safely get people who aren’t experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency to the right level of care, saving them an unnecessary trip to the ER and getting them connected to care through telehealth, urgent care or other non-emergency options.”
Heinz also said that the model has the full support of REMSA Health’s medical directors, community hospital partners, local governments, and the Washoe County District Board of Health.
As a private, nonprofit healthcare provider funded by user fees, Heinz says another benefit of patient navigation is that it builds sustainability for the organization.
“Patient navigation efforts are important to us not only for providing high quality care, but also for ensuring the sustainability of our resources and the system’s reimbursement model,” said Dean Dow, President & Chief Executive Officer of REMSA Health. “Healthcare margins across the country are tight. So we’re working with our local health board and advocating for legislation nationally to improve EMS reimbursements that would allow us to reinvest necessary dollars into our services and, most importantly, our employees.”
Dow said improved reimbursements would further the benefit REMSA Health provides the community, which it has been a part of for more than 35 years. Its value was measured in a recent market study which it is required to conduct by the District Board of Health. The study showed that REMSA Health’s ground ambulance transport services ranked first among 20 other EMS agencies from across North America.
REMSA Health thanks the community for using 911 resources appropriately:
- Please do not call 911 if you do not have a true medical emergency.
- Symptoms of a medical emergency that you should dial 911 for include; chest pain, sudden loss of consciousness, weakness on one side, sudden slurring of words or difficulty speaking, seizure, coughing up or vomiting blood, severe allergic reaction, shortness of breath, severe stomach pain, traumatic injury or poisoning.
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