Program To Work With Frequent Users Of Emergency Services Unveiled

It would direct them to other resources for their health needs.


Frederick, Md (KM). A Mobile Community Health Care Program is coming to Frederick County. During her public information briefing on Thursday, County Executive Jan Gardner said the program is designed for people who overuse the county’s emergency services when their visits to the hospital are not true emergencies.

As part of the voluntary program, a paramedic and a nurse or nurse-practioners would visit with these individuals and work with them to find other resources to meet their health needs. “The Mobile Community Health Team is not intended and will not take the place of the participant’s primary care physicians. In fact, with the permission of the participant, the team may work with their health care provider in order to coordinate and provide the best possible outcomes for the participant,” Gardner says.

The program is a partnership between the County’s Division of Fire and Rescue Services, the Health Department and Frederick Regional Health System, which is often known as Frederick Memorial Hospital.

Heather Kirby, the Vice President of Integrated Care Delivery at FRHS, says on average, 105 people who don’t have emergencies, make 1500 visits to the emergency room, costing them a total of $4.5-million: :”And we took an even a closer look, we found that a lot of what they were needing wasn’t necessarily acute hospital care. But they were needing better access to services and coordination in the community,” she says. “So for us, this is very much about helping individuals live better in the community with community-based resources.”

Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, the County Health Officer, says she’s excited about this program. “Looking to see what else could be done, and having conversations with individuals to really understand what is their  situation that’s prompting what  we’re seeing on the other  end,  which is the calls for emergency services, and ultimately, the emergency room visits,” she says.

Tom Owens,Director of the County’s Fire and Rescue Services Division, says this program in Frederick County was modeled on one developed in Prince George’s County. He says his staff paid a visit to PG County, which was very open about their program, allowing his staff to ride along for in-home visits, and talking about what worked and didn’t work.

“Together, we believe we’ve built a workable program, and we’re very excited about getting this program underway,” Chief Owens says. “This will be a program we begin with existing resources so as of now, there’s no additional cost associated with this as we begin to prove this concept.”

Owens says the goal of the program is to eliminate any unnecessary emergency responses and reduce cost; , and reduce the impact it has on the local hospital. “When the emergency department becomes  saturated at this time, it’s very, very challenging to get the appropriate level of care.”

Last fall, the county applied to through the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services to create a mobile integrated community health program.

Gardner says the Mobile Community Health Care team  will not take the place of a participant’s physician, but can, with the participant’s permission, work with that individual’s health care provider to develop the best possible outcome  for the patient.


By Kevin Mcmanus