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Prosser hospital district receives $1.5 million grant

PROSSER - The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation announced on Friday, June 15, that the Prosser Public Hospital District has been awarded almost $1.5 million to develop and provide a community paramedic program with the goal of reducing multiple emergency room readmissions by providing targeted follow-up care.

The innovation center, created by Congress under the Affordable Care Act, is designed to "test innovative payment and service delivery models to reduce program expenditures, while preserving or enhancing the quality of care" for those who get Medicare, Medicaid or Children's Health Insurance Program benefits.

The Community Paramedic Program, proposed by Prosser Memorial Hospital Ambulance Manager Mike Schreiner, both fits the goals of the center and will improve the health of PMH patients.

Emergency room readmissions of patients who fail to follow discharge instructions or take medicine cost the medical industry billions of dollars each year, according to PMH director of community relations Fred Lamb. Many of these patients don't qualify for Home Health but still need extra attention.

By training EMS crews to conduct follow-up visits to at-risk patients, the hospital hopes to reduce those costly readmissions.

The grant of $1,470,017 will be used to implement the Community Paramedic Program. Discharging physicians will identify patients who have a high likelihood of being readmitted to the hospital and refer each patient to the Community Paramedic Program case manager.

The community paramedics will then make a series of visits to the patients' homes to check in, make sure the patient is improving, following discharge instructions, taking their medications and following up with visits to their primary care doctor.

The program should be operational by October and is expected to save the hospital more than $1.8 million over the next three years.

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