911 Program Bridges Gap between Urgent and Emergent Healthcare

By Intermountain Healthcare

During the past several years, the Salt Lake City Fire Department has seen a significant increase in individuals who call 911 for routine healthcare needs.

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As a community partner, Intermountain Healthcare’s North Temple Clinic recently completed a successful, two-year pilot program with the fire department to help meet the needs of people who call 911, but who may not have life-emergent situations.

Now the SLC Fire Department is launching a 911 Nurse Navigator program along with the Utah Hospital Association, representing hospital systems in the Salt Lake area. Intermountain has been the lead partner with the Salt Lake Fire Department in the program, which is one of only five similar initiatives in the U.S.

Engaging with the fire department and other community partners helps us progress in our Shared Accountability initiatives at Intermountain. This is a great partnership that helps meet medical needs in the home or at appropriate clinics rather than trying to address issues in a one-time visit at an emergency department.

This new system allows a trained nurse dispatcher to manage low-acuity 911 calls and provide secondary triage to the most appropriate resource and destination. Reports show a significant number of 911 callers do not require an emergency response, and many patients do not require a visit to a hospital emergency room.

Some 911 callers simply need help connecting with appropriate healthcare resources. The certified ECNS nurse dispatcher can field these calls and provide the appropriate services. Such services may include: scheduling appointments with a primary care provider, making arrangements for transportation, or dispatching a community paramedic unit for hands-on help.

At a news conference announcing this program, Chief Clair Baldwin, Salt Lake City Fire Department Medical Division, said the “Salt Lake City 911 Nurse Navigator program takes a proactive approach to the way we do business by bridging the gap between urgent and emergent healthcare.”  He also said the program “will provide better patient outcomes, better use of existing resources and reduce costs to provide the services deserved by the citizens of Salt Lake City.”