Commissioners consider expanding innovative paramedic program

Paramedic program helps avoid emergency bills
Posted at 5:46 PM, May 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-17 17:46:24-04

James Crutchfield estimates about 95 percent of emergency calls don't really need an ambulance.

"People say they thank god for us everyday," he said, "and they don't know how they ever made it without us for this long."

Crutchfield leads Manatee Counties' Community Paramedic program, one of the first of its kind around the state. They now have a pharmacist on board, going directly to homes where people often call 911 for help.

"I get to see what's really happening inside the home," said Victoria Reinhartz, pharmacist and instructor at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Reinhartz has already noticed the difference.

"You uncover the deeper problems other than just 'how do I take this medication?'," she said.

In the last 10 months, the team visited more than 1,400 homes, saving patients hundreds of dollars in emergency room and ambulance bills.

Crutchfield is asking the county for more money, hoping to hire a second full time paramedic.

"This isn't just the future," he said, "but this is how healthcare should be delivered."