Donations help fund programs for preventive in-home visits

Community Paramedic Program Improves Health for 71 Area Patients through Gifts to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations

Sometimes getting medical care is not as simple as calling to set up an appointment with a family practitioner. Barriers such as lack of transportation, complex health issues, difficulty in managing medications or past trauma can keep patients from getting the regular care they need.

The ThedaCare community paramedic program, launched in the Fox Cities in January 2017, helps close that gap by reaching out to those patients in their homes. The program has expanded its reach thanks to a $107,000 grant from the ThedaCare Family of Foundations, made possible through donations from the community.

“Through this program, we’re able to connect with patients in a way that we previously couldn’t,” said Sandra Groenewold, MD, expanded care team physician champion.

Under the initiative, a Gold Cross Ambulance community paramedic conducts home visits for patients who either have been hospitalized at ThedaCare or have been recommended for follow-up visits by their physician. Community paramedics provide services such as safety assessments, checking vitals such as blood pressure. They can also perform simple wound care like changing dressings and assist patients who are starting new medications.

Community paramedics serve patients throughout the Fox Cities, and in the summer added the Waupaca area with the help of ThedaCare Foundation-Waupaca and ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca.

Donor dollars made it possible for the community paramedic program to increase its community paramedic hours from part-time to full-time, and to add a second paramedic, with a goal of also bringing that position to full-time. The initiative has served 71 patients, 38 of which have graduated, meaning they were able to meet goals such as reaching certain health markers or medication adjustments.

“The community paramedic offers personalized solutions tailored to patients,” said Laurie Moore, project coordinator. “That’s much easier when they can assess a patient’s capabilities in their home environment.”

Community paramedics also can recommend other helpful resources based on a patient’s needs, such as local food pantries. “They are able to give them some quick wins, which is important to helping develop trust and a good relationship,” Dr. Groenewold said. “Very quickly, they see a huge benefit to working with the program, and that helps improve engagement with their doctor or provider.”

The program is not intended as a replacement to physician visits, but as a way to strengthen the overall team approach to care, Dr. Groenewold said. The program helps decrease the number of unnecessary Emergency Department visits and improve preventive care to reduce the amount of hospitalizations.

“In the office we see one side of our patients — we don’t understand exactly what goes on at home and how that impacts them,” Dr. Groenewold said. “The community paramedic is able to work with patients with a trauma-sensitive approach and help us to know how to best individualize their care.”

The Community Paramedic program is funded by donations designated to the area of greatest need, which provide ThedaCare Family of Foundations the ability to grant funds where and when they’re needed most. To learn more about the ThedaCare Family of Foundations and the impact of donor support, or make a donation, please visit www.thedacare.org/Foundations or email Foundations@thedacare.org. 

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose, as well as 32 clinics in nine counties and the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter