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Monday, November 21, 2011

N̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l Local Healthcare Plan

National healthcare. A subject sure to get any group into a debate if not a flat out argument. Been there, done that. But instead of sitting around and debating the subject or worse, just waiting for the federal government to actually do something, the Alameda County board of supervisors have decided to fund a project put forward by the county's Health Care Services Agency. 

The pilot program would make use of five local fire stations to provide "federally qualified clinics" to those neighborhoods which they serve. Alex Briscoe, the director of the Health Care Services Agency asks, "What happens if we co-located a nurse practitioner from one of the community clinics with a paramedic and ran the public sector’s response to the retail clinic?

The clinics would address minor medical problems such as minor infections and immunizations helping to relieve the ever increasing pressure on local emergency departments.

In an article on the National Association of Counties website they said that "in addition to providing a limited array of on-site services, including follow-up from emergency room visits, the health portals will:
  • respond to “sub-acute” 911 calls under the county’s new Medical Priority Dispatch System (approx. 30,000 calls annually), which triages response to non-life-threatening calls 
  • provide discharge follow-up for residents in a defined area within 48 hours of discharge from emergency department care, and
  • take direct referrals from the county’s 211 call center for medical advice or consultation."

Chief Gilbert, the fire chief for the Alameda County Fire Department is quoted in the article saying,  "The fact that we can build upon that trust and meet that ever-growing need in our community that ultimately impacts the quality of life and public safety of our community is absolutely consistent with our mission and something that we're excited to be able to do."

It wouldn't be the first time that fire departments in Alameda County have been involved in preventative care. According to an article in the San Lorenzo Patch "in 2009, Alameda County became the only county in the state where paramedics were given permission to immunize residents against the H1N1 flu virus."
Recently my wife and I were having a discussion about the feasibility of a local government run health care system. I don't know if that is possible, but Briscoe seems top think so. He said, "We have to do something to reinvent the health care system. We believe we have the answer."
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