FD CARES (Community Assistance, Referrals, and Education Services) is an innovative, integrated mobile health program connecting patients who need frequent non-emergency medical care with services and resources appropriate for their needs, while also reducing resource waste and expense created by non-emergent 911 calls and emergency room visits.
The program was started by the Kent Fire Department in 2010.The FD CARES team looks at data from 911 and the hospital and identifies patients who frequently use 911 and emergency room services for non-emergency needs. Patients are evaluated to determine whether their needs could be better served if they had access to other resources, and those with the highest need are contacted by the FD CARES team.
“It’s creating a connection with patients who would benefit from a care management program,” said Cameron Buck, MD, Valley Medical Center’s Emergency Department Medical Director.
Since its inception, FD CARES has helped patients with a variety of services, including building relationships with primary care providers or social workers, assessing home safety and installing home safety devices, arranging non-emergency transport to medical facilities, and finding placement at sobering centers or homeless shelters. The program does not deter patients from calling 911 or visiting the emergency room, but aims to connect them with resources that will better meet their needs.
Kent Fire Department Battalion Chief Mitch Snyder described one situation where FD CARES helped a husband and wife who moved to a smaller residence. The husband used a lift to assist his wife in moving around the house. Their new residence was not spacious enough to properly accommodate the lift and the wife frequently fell, prompting calls to 911. Since Medicare only covers a one-time lift purchase, the couple was left to struggle with the inefficient equipment. The FD CARES team worked with Medicare and a pharmaceutical company to explain the necessity of a new lift purchase, and to train the husband to properly use the equipment.
In addition to connecting patients with outside resources, FD CARES conducts 50 to 60 proactive patient visits per month. The team is collecting and analyzing data to decide how to best use resources and determine the downstream effect of the program. The unit is staffed with an EMT and an RN 24/7.
For more on the FD CARES program, including stories of community members using the program, read this article from EMS World’s September 2015 issue.
Pictured: Lead Nurse Adam Davis, Capt. Matt Madlem and Masters of Social Worker Nancy Valencia in front of one of the FD CARES vans.