CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — Anderson County Emergency Medical Services took to social media to plea with local medical providers, asking them to do anything and everything they can in-house before calling to transfer a patient to the ER.
The post said it’s no secret that EMS and hospitals are overwhelmed right now. So, in an effort to make the most out of the strapped resources, the ACEMS director is asking primary care physicians, nursing homes, clinics and practitioners at all levels to handle what they can in-house and use mobile diagnostics before calling 911.
Two assisted living facilities said they already do everything they can to keep their residents out of the hospitals. Patriot Hills Assisted Living in Oak Ridge uses ACEMS when they do need an ambulance, but owner Tommy Spencer said that’s only in life or death situations.
“We would send a resident out if they were having trouble breathing, or irregular heartbeat, or you know, someone shows signs of a stroke or a heart attack,” Spencer said.
He said they have great staff on-site, such as physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and hospice caregivers who help with preventative care and can manage those smaller issues ERs might see.
“We’re not going to send them out for cuts and bruises and burns and stuff like that, cause I mean, we can handle that stuff,” Spencer said.
Spencer said families pay his facility to keep the residents safe and out of the hospital, so that’s their daily goal. He knows it’s especially important right now to keep their residents out of the ER when the hospitals are full of COVID-19 and other diseases.
“We’re not going to subject them to that, so that’s why we’re going to try to handle most things that we possibly can in-house,” Spencer said.
Over in Knox County, South High Senior Living staff are also doing anything and everything they can to keep their residents out of the hospitals.
“We have in-house physician offices that come to see our residents here, and then we partner with different companies like hospice agencies and home health agencies,” Chelsea Irwin, Director of Sales and Marketing at South High, said.
Preventative care is key to catch any health issues early so a trip to the ER isn’t necessary, but South High also works with Dispatch Health–a mobile ER company that brings emergency care to the facility.
“They can really see you on a full scope just like you went to the ER,” Irwin said.
She said all the patients are signed up in the Dispatch Health system, so if there is an emergency, staff inputs the issues into a computer and the company sends out medical staff to handle the problem. Irwin said keeping the residents out of the ER not only decreases their chances of being exposed to COVID-19 and other diseases, but it impacts their daily routine, which is also important for their overall health.
“We want them to have the best possible chance to continue thriving, and sometimes when they do go out to the hospital, they end up going to a rehab facility potentially, and that also exposes them to sickness and gets them out of their daily routine. They’re not getting stimulated like they would in a community like ours,” Irwin said.
Although residents at South High and Patriot Hills are fully vaccinated, Irwin and Spencer said there’s still a real chance COVID would be brought into the facility if one of their residents had to make a trip to the ER.
So, while the hospitals are overwhelmed right now, keeping their patients out of them was already in their plan. Spencer said the few times he’s had to call an ambulance recently, fortunately, his residents didn’t have a long wait.