Community paramedics proposal in Forsyth County

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. -- Ambulances with Forsyth County Emergency Services are constantly coming and going from their East Fifth Street base.

The division can get as many as 140 calls per day. But Emergency Services Director Dan Ozimek says some of those calls don't require an ambulance. So he's looking to bring community paramedics to Forsyth County.

"We are excited about it. It's a shift. We are used to going out assessing, treating and taking the patient to the emergency room," he said.

Instead of transporting patients to the emergency room, a trained community paramedic would respond. The community paramedic would visit patients that call 911 frequently. According to Ozimek, frequent 911 callers usually have difficulties that can be solved in the home.

"For example, if it's a diabetic patient, is that patient taking their medicine like they are supposed to, is the diet like it’s suppose to be?"

Joan Haubenreiser is a vice president with Novant Health. She feels if community paramedics can provide emergency medicine and treatment at the home that will allow emergency room doctors to help others.

"The right patient will be seen in the right venue. The critical patient will be taken care of in the emergency room and the less critical will be managed in their home," she said.

Dan Ozimek says it will take $650,000 to start the community paramedic program. Forsyth County Commissioners will review Ozimek's request during the commission’s budget session in May. Nearby Rockingham County is hoping to start a community paramedic program January 2016.

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