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Guilford County EMS, Cone Health plan to expand community paramedic program

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Guilford County EMS and Cone Health plan to expand their community paramedic program.

The program officially launched in 2015 but is creating quite the caseload for Paramedic Katie Lynch; the sole community paramedic.

Each patient, out of about 27 total, is referred to by doctors at Cone Health Heart and Vascular Clinic. Last year the clinic served about 3,000 patients. Dr. Dan Bensimhon said that this community paramedic program is helpful to offer patients who are not comfortable with clinic visits the same health care and follow-ups as anyone else.

“That certain group of patients, sometimes they get uncomfortable with the health system. They don't want nurses coming to their home, they don't want to come to the clinic, they don't want to do all the traditional things we do. But they’re comfortable calling 911, they're comfortable with the paramedics,” Bensimhon said.

Lynch said her own emergency vehicle is equipped with the same tools and technology to be able to respond to an emergency nearby.

Lynch went through about six weeks of training with nurses and doctors at the clinic to understand how to cater to each patient's care plan with nutrition and educational advice.

“It's very helpful to help that gap of communication and that's a big issue because the patients won't necessarily tell their provider, 'I can't get this medicine because I can't afford it,' you know, so then they're going to go without it. So then, I can come in and work with the pharmacists and the hospital and give them their medicine,” Lynch said.