An Innovative “Two-fer” in Health Care and Higher Education: Community paramedic program at Inver Hills
By Dane Smith
Growth & Justice
January 13, 2013
The St. Paul Pioneer Press last week highlighted on both its news and editorial pages a splendid innovation in post-secondary training and health care, now being offered by Inver Hills Community College. The new wrinkle is training and certification of “community paramedics,” who will provide at-home care for less severe medical needs, filling a gap between regularly scheduled in-home nursing and those expensive trips to emergency rooms by conventional paramedics and emergency responders. Community paramedics would serve only those who don’t qualify for home health-care and the service could be adapted to regional and local needs. “In rural Minnesota, (community paramedics) may provide vaccinations when the demand for ambulance service is slow. In cities like St. Paul, they could check on patients who recently had surgery or provide routine health screenings in low-income communities,” the Pioneer Press reported. An editorial endorsement of this creative response described it as “a homegrown example of the search for productivity gains and efficiencies that will be essential as governments confront growing health care costs,” and as a promising effort to “rethink and redesign” both health-care and post-secondary education.