Providing health care to underserved patients is the focus of an award-winning paramedic program in Pitt County.
The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, in partnership with the Local Government Federal Credit Union, selected Pitt County as one of 10 winners of the 2021 Excellence in Innovation Awards at the NCACC Annual Conference in Wilmington.
The award, which included a $1,000 cash prize, recognizes programs that demonstrate creative solutions and yield cost savings for North Carolina counties.
The Pitt County Community Paramedic Program was launched in 2017 as a pilot program to expand traditional services offered by county EMS by providing in-home health care to county residents who lack access to doctors, clinics, and pharmacies.
The program provides an improved level of care to county residents at a reduced cost to the patient.
An equally important result is a reduction of non-emergency 911 calls. Pitt County Emergency Management Deputy Director/EMS Coordinator Jim McArthur said, “Through at-home care, community paramedicine decreased the number of unnecessary calls to 911 which ensures ambulance and other resources are available for residents experiencing true medical emergencies.”
McArthur said in a video interview that the program was born from several years of collaborative discussion involving Vidant Medical Center, EMS and other community stakeholders.
“We developed individualized care plans for traditionally underserved patients who struggled with transportation, access to care or chronic disease management,” he said.
Michelle Ethridge, a paramedic and registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience, serves as the community paramedic and is responsible for the day-to-day success of the program, McArthur said.
“As a leader in the east, we are extremely proud of this multiple award-winning program,” he said. “Collaboration, teamwork, partnerships and stakeholder engagement are very important for programs like these.
“We continuously strive to improve and serve citizens in our community better,” McArthur said.
Among other awards, the Community Paramedic Program was recognized with an achievement award from the National Association of Counties.
For more information, visit NCACC/LGFSU or contact McArthur at 902-3950.