Emergency Responders in Orange to Offer At-Home Care

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Getting symptom relief isn't always easy for hospice patients and constant trips to the hospital can make it all the more tiring. Now, the County of Orange Department of Fire and EMS are changing how they care for hospice patients. Typically when hospice patients call 911, crews come to their homes and then transport them to the hospital. Now, EMS crews are cutting out the trip to the hospital altogether.

"Sometimes it's more of a chore to move them and all of their equipment if they're on vents or anything to put them into the ambulance, take them to the hospital and then bring them back,” said Mike Stewart, captain of the County of Orange Fire and EMS.

Soon though, hospice patients won't have to go to such great lengths for pain relief. Assistant Chief Thomas Joyce says he hopes home visits rather than ER trips soon become the norm.

"For some hospice patients taking a trip to the hospital is hard on the body, from leaving their home, being transported into the ambulance and taking a trip that could be 45 minutes away,” Joyce said.

Joyce spends hours putting together monthly videos to keep the community in the loop about department efforts. The most recent hour-long production breaks down the benefits of the up-and-coming EMS hospice care.

"Traditionally in EMS we look at trying to take care of the disease process, maybe the cause of the symptom that day, the focus here is purely on symptomatic care,” Joyce said.

Joyce says the goal is to toss the “treat and transport” routine and instead offer each patient an individual care plan from the comfort of home.

"Some people up to the point of their diagnoses have had a lot of studies, a lot of procedures, they've had enough of being poked and prodded,” Joyce said.

The new at-home care option will be available April 1, once crews are trained for the procedures. Only 5 percent of emergency services departments in the country are trained to do at-home care.

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