A new partnership aims to improve the way community members in Southwest Washington access emergency services. The Community Assistance Referral and Education Services (CARES) program brings together Clark Cowlitz Fire Rescue (CCFR), SWACH, and Legacy Health to better meet the needs of the local population. Through this program, the agencies hope to reduce dependency on emergency services for non-emergency needs. It is also an innovative way to ensure individuals get the ongoing care they need.
The new partnership is built on a connection of EMS services, community-based care coordination, education, and the effective use of resources to improve population health. A team consisting of a community paramedic and a social worker connects with community members in need and uses SWACH’s HealthConnect platform to link to the appropriate services for their situation. An important goal of the program is to provide outreach and follow-up services for patients who contact CCFR.
What Services are Offered?
The CARES program is designed to help address the barriers to creating whole-person care. Individuals experiencing medical difficulties often face additional challenges in living their best life. The program provides access to crucial medical services as well as housing, transportation, insurance, and mental health programs. Essentially, the CARES program will help identify the areas where individuals need additional support.
CARES also helps people navigate difficult medical situations through this network. Patient advocacy, in-home medical evaluations, and psychosocial assessments are just some of the additional services provided. A CARES referral can help with a large number of challenging situations, including:
- General medical care
- 911 dependency
- Food and utlility assistance
- Medication management
- Domestic abuse
- Mental health or substance abue support
- Housing assistance
What is Unique about this Program?
The CARES program relies on trusted individuals to help people access the care they need. Paramedics and social workers play essential roles in building trust with their patients and helping them make necessary connections. They often understand the broader picture of someone’s experience and can help access additional services as needed.
The partnership also provides an innovative approach to impacting the significant challenges facing the medical community. Long-term health concerns like COVID-19, the opioid epidemic, and acute and chronic health concerns can put a strain on services and providers. This approach works to reduce the need for emergency services, which will allow resources to be used to address some of these large problems.
The CARES program helps individuals in Southwest Washington access the resources and services they need, based on their personal situation. By connecting the right resources to the right people at the right time, we can engage with community members to provide whole-person care.