New program aims to limit frequent hospital visits

By: Jacob Albracht

We first told you about Mike Lingenfelter Wednesday as he
received a gift to help in his mobility .

Leading up to that moment, Mike was a part of a then pilot program with Via Christi to help patients who are at a high risk to go to, and return to the hospital.

“In 2016, (Mike) had 26 emergency room visits,” says Charity Clark, Manager of Transitional Care for Via Christi. He called 911 those times and was admitted 26 times in 2016.”

For the past few months, a paramedic has been working with Mike, trying to eliminate the need for so many hospital trips.

It was a trial for a mobile-integrated healthcare program for Via Christi. On Feb. 1, the paramedic started visiting Mike at home. Since that time, Mike has not been back in the hospital.

“(The paramedic) was able to easily asses the patient in the home, and asses the environment, to the point of making sure the cat didn’t unplug the oxygen concentrator,” Clark says. “Some of those basic, simple items.”

That pilot program is now a reality. Last week, the Sedgwick County Commission accepted an $80,000 grant to fund one Sedgwick County paramedic to devote to this program.

“…When we were given the opportunity to partner with Ascension and the Via Christi system to do a pilot for this, we were immediately interested,” says EMS System Medical Director, Dr. John Gallagher, M.D. “We knew it would be a benefit to the community.”

Gallagher says the program will be helpful for all parties: the hospital, the county and the patients it serves.

“It gives us the ability to target the individual patient needs,” he says.

Via Christi hopes that devoted paramedic care can serve several hundred targeted patients this year. For now, the program has only been approved for one year.

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