Alameda to join paramedicine pilot
Alameda to join paramedicine pilot
A pair of Alameda firefighter/paramedics will soon be doing more than just responding to medical emergencies: They will be checking up on the city’s infirm residents after they leave the hospital.
The City Council on Tuesday night signed off on the city’s participation in the Alameda County Community Paramedicine Pilot Project, a county-funded, two-year pilot project to help divert patients from expensive hospital emergency room visits by helping them access community resources and making certain they are practicing good self-care.
A typical client would be a chronically ill patient who has been transported to an emergency room four times in 30 days, Deputy Fire Chief Doug Long told the council. He said the patients' ailments - including chronic pain, seizures and substance abuse - could be treated in a clinic or other non-emergency setting.
Of the 120,000 people transported to emergency rooms throughout Alameda County during a one-year period, at least 30 percent did not need emergency treatment, according to a city staff report. Those patients would be seen by a community paramedic who would visit their home to counsel them on how to access clinics, make doctor’s appointments and use prescription medications effectively.
Many of the clients have no health care, Long said.
The pilot program is being funded by Alameda County, with the city set to receive $500,000 in its first year to employ two community paramedics and a division chief 40 hours per week. To backfill positions left vacant by the reassignment of staff, the fire department would hire three temporary firefighters.
Alameda would have to apply to the county for funding for the second year of the pilot, and Long said the jobs would disappear if the program is not funded beyond the two-year pilot.
Long said he is hopeful the project will be extended beyond the initial trial and patients can be charged a fee for the service in future years.
Alameda was chosen to take part in the Alameda County project, along with the Hayward Fire Department. Data will be gathered on the project in both cities and other participating fire agencies throughout the state, Long said.
The plan had the support of Councilwoman Lena Tam - a former president of the Alameda Health Care District Board - who noted that emergency room visits are the most expensive form of health care.
Councilwoman Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, also a former health care district board member, was also complimentary of the program and the department’s effort to be part of the project.
“We believe this is the wave of the future," she said.
In a related action, the council approved a financing plan for replacement of Fire Station 3. The Grand Street station has been closed since 2001 because it is not earthquake proof; the department has been renting a home next door to house the station's staffers while they're on duty, at a cost of $3,500 a month.
The $5 million price tag would be financed with a variety of one-time city funds, including $1.26 million borrowed from the fire department’s equipment replacement fund, proceeds from the sale of the fire house property at 1703 Grand Street and $3 million in outside financing from the California State Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, or IBank. The property has been appraised at $475,000.
Council members also approved exclusive negotiating agreements with a developer, Alameda United Commercial, for the sale and development of the Bachelors Enlisted Quarters and a 5.5-acre section of the taxiway property on Alameda Point.
City Manager John Russo said he will review the agreement and make recommendations to the council. Development plans will be reviewed and voted on by the city’s Planning Board and the council.
Ashcraft voted against the agreement, saying the council did not get enough information from the developer given that they were the only applicant for the site. Councilman Tony Daysog joined Ashcraft in voting against the taxiway agreement.
Daysog said he was concerned that any project on the site might exceed the 1,425-unit residential cap placed on new projects in the initial phase of Alameda Point development.