In the past 20 years, the Salt Lake City Fire Department has seen a significant increase in individuals who utilize 911 service for routine health care. In order to ensure medical responders and providers are meeting the specific needs of individual patients, the Salt Lake City Fire Department has partnered with the Utah Hospital Association to launch an innovative Community Healthcare Program.
“The Salt Lake City Fire Department is very excited by the opportunity given by this public/private partnership,” said Salt Lake City Fire Department Medical Division Chief Clair Baldwin. “The Salt Lake City 911 Nurse Navigator program takes a proactive approach to the way we do business. This program bridges the gap between urgent and emergent health care. It 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.”
Part of the event will be a check presentation from the Utah Hospital Association, which is comprised of Salt Lake Regional Medical Center, St. Mark's Hospital, University of Utah Health Care and Intermountain Healthcare, among other hospitals. These four hospital systems contributed funds to get the program started.
“Utah’s hospitals are committed to providing the right healthcare services at the right time in the right place,” said Greg Bell, President/CEO of Utah Hospital Association. “The ECNS initiative is one way that we can work towards assuring that the hospital emergency department and its resources are being used appropriately within the Salt Lake City community.”
An important part of the Community Healthcare Program is the implementation of an Emergency Communication Nurse System. In this system, a trained nurse dispatcher manages low-acuity calls from the 911 call-takers and provides secondary triage designed to identify the most appropriate resource and destination. The simple, yet effective system provides an alternate option to emergency response. A substantial number of 911 calls do not require an EMS 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.
With the decline of fee-for-service based medicine and the transition to accountable care organizations, ensuring that patients are receiving the services most appropriate resulting in the best outcomes is a high priority.
ECNS alleviates some of the burden on the healthcare system by better allocating resources for non-emergent situations, and maintains the readiness of the Department’s emergency response personnel by keeping them available for incidents that involve higher life-threat.