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August 7, 2012
By Claudene Wharton
The University's School of Community Health Sciences will help design and collaborate in a training program for employees of the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority of Reno (REMSA) under a new project that will provide an alternative to ambulance service and urgent care visits for patients with lower acuity and chronic disease situations in Washoe County. The School will also assist in the complex evaluation of this innovative project.
"There are elderly or ill people in our community, for instance, who may fall and end up having to call an ambulance for assistance getting up," explained Trudy Larson, director of the University's School of Community Health Science, who will also serve on the REMSA Partners Advisory Committee. "This program will allow REMSA to establish a new nonemergency phone number that folks like these can call, and REMSA will have specially trained teams waiting to assist them, without having to dispatch a full ambulance team and vehicle."
The $9.8 million project, called the "REMSA Community Health Early Intervention Team," is federally funded by a Health Care Innovation Award, awards aimed at delivering better health, improved care and lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. Specifically, the REMSA project aims to result in fewer nonurgent emergency department visits, ambulance transports, hospital admissions and hospital readmissions. It also aims to reduce unreimbursed emergency department costs, and ultimately, to improve the overall health care and continuity of care in our community.
It is estimated that within three years, the program will have already saved more than it cost, saving $10.5 million in three years. Other partners in the project include the Washoe County Health District and the State of Nevada Office of Emergency Medical Services.
"We are delighted to help REMSA with this project," Larson said. "Those who respond to calls from the new, non-emergency phone line will need a great deal of knowledge and a special skill set to respond to a variety of health-related incidents. Our faculty can provide solid, research-based information to curriculum design and bring expertise to the important evaluation components of this impressive project."