Community paramedics help eliminate barriers to healthcare for patients

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Updated: Feb. 21, 2023 at 12:34 AM EST

Author: Zach Prelutsky

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EASLEY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) -Around 200 people who might not typically go to the doctor for various reasons can now get the medical care they need thanks to a grant-funded program at Prisma Health.

The program under Prisma Health’s Mobile Integrated Health is working to help eliminate those barriers for some patients.

“They found me, and how I don’t know, but I guess it was God,” said William Westfield.

Westfield and Prisma Health Community Paramedic Wesley Wampler first met over a year ago after Westfield went to the doctor but didn’t follow up.

“It was the point of getting from A to B and then, you know, being scared too,” said Westfield.

A doctor connected Westfield and Wampler, who showed up at his door to help.

“They don’t want to be sitting at home feeling bad. And they just don’t know where to turn, and a lot of times our job is just to connect those resources and get them the help that they need,” explained Wampler.

As a community paramedic, Wampler does anything from connecting patients to primary care doctors, giving them rides to appointments and helping them keep up with medications.

“When they develop these relationships, they see the other side of healthcare,” said Prisma Health’s Mobile Integrated Health Manager Luke Estes.

Prisma Health Community Paramedics have made more than 750 visits in the past few months. Estes says transportation is the most common barrier he sees with patients in the Upstate.

“We really have three goals, and that’s the reduction of EMS utilization, reduction of (Emergency Department) utilization, and patient satisfaction,” explained Estes.

When Wampler first met Westfield, he was dealing with hepatitis, high blood pressure, and other medical issues.

Now, he has a steady job and the energy to spend time with his granddaughter.

“There were times, man, that I didn’t even want to play with her, you know, because I’m exhausted with the problems that I have. But through these guys here, now I can’t wait to get home, and my granddaughter get home to play with her,” said Westfield.

“It feels good to hear that, but it feels even better to see how he’s doing right now,” added Wampler.

Right now, there are ten community paramedics at Prisma Health who serve eight counties.

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