We are excited about our partnership with Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue (CCFR) to establish a new pilot program in Clark and Cowlitz counties.
“Not only will we be reducing the burden of 911 calls that are better handled by non-emergency resources, but we will also be connecting people who have other important needs with the community health workers and services that will make a difference in their lives. We really believe that community paramedicine is an integral part of the future of healthcare,” says SWACH Director of Community and Clinical Linkages, Eric McNair Scott.
C.A.R.E.S. helps serve Non-Emergent Needs
The Community Assistance Referral and Education Services (C.A.R.E.S.) program will work to advocate for community member needs through connection to services, education, and effective use of resources for improving public health in our communities.
The program follows models that have been established elsewhere in Washington State to better connect vulnerable and at-risk populations with resources they need for healthy independent living.
“Many times people in need don’t know what resources exist or how to reach them. These situations lead to people using 911 and emergency responders when they don’t know who else to call. Our system, like most, is not designed for people to get the wide range of different resources they may need through 911, which was intended solely for time critical emergencies. When our limited emergency responders are tied up with non-emergencies it can hamper or delay our response to critical situations,” Division Chief Mike Jackson said in a news release.
The C.A.R.E.S. program aims to diversify non-emergency health care needs away from space in hospital emergency rooms. The current emergency medical 911 system is designed to take people with emergencies to emergency rooms at hospitals, which are some of the most expensive health care services to operate.
SWACH’s HealthConnect program was launched in April of 2019 with a variety of social, behavioral, and medical partners. The program operates in Clark, Klickitat, and Skamania counties.
To date, the program has built a local network with 12 organizations and more than 70 Community Health Workers (CHWs).
The C.A.R.E.S. program will establish a contract with funding and guidance from SWACH to CCFR. CCFR will then use the funds to provide full-time staffing with a social worker as well as a firefighter paramedic.
Growing the C.A.R.E.S. Referral Network
The team will accept referrals from first responders, hospitals, clinics, and other service providers for people identified as at-risk or suffering from issues including: mental health, food stability, chronic medical conditions, and other situations where they don’t currently have appropriate resources or a personal support network in place.
In addition to improving health and driving better use of emergency resources, the program is expected to have a positive impact on current community issues surrounding mental health and opioid addiction by connecting people with a wide range of resources.
“We are excited to partner with SWACH for this opportunity to improve the health of our community while using our resources more efficiently to get the right help to the right people at the right time, especially in emergencies. We are confident that the C.A.R.E.S. program will prove valuable for the long-term safety, health and preparedness of our community,” Fire Chief John Nohr said.