AMR to offer new nurse navigation option in Milam County
Some changes are coming to ambulance service in Milam County.
Byron Sedlacek with AMR Ambulance Service spoke to the Cameron City Council about those coming changes during a meeting on Monday night.
“This story begins with COVID,” Sedlacek, Operations Manager for AMR, said. “When everything was shut down including schools that stopped the cycle for producing new paramedics. That lasted for about a year and a half. It takes about two years for a paramedic to get their certifications. That by itself created a staffing shortage.”
He said there is also a nursing shortage that is exacerbating the problem.
“A lot of hospital systems are turning to paramedics to fill those positions,” he said. “I have done some research on this and there are 683 positions for paramedics posted.”
He said that finding new paramedics right now is impossible and that there are 19,000 paramedic openings across the country and that number is growing.
“The old model of EMS which was to staff ambulances with paramedics and EMTs to go handle the call volume is becoming a problem,” he said. “As you all are aware that has caused some issues out here with call times being elongated and people being available to run calls.”
AMR has a program in place that has been run in other locations called Nurse Navigation.
“EMS is a first-come, first-serve business,” he said. “If you call 911 there is a unit available that unit gets sent to your call even if that might not be the most urgent need.”
Sedlacek said the Nurse Navigation system will prioritize calls when calls come in and take the lower level needs and push them over to a nurse with questions that will allow the nurse to take care of those issues over the phone instead of needing to send out an ambulance.
The program is slated to begin on Friday, Oct. 8, according to Sedlacek.
“We have a good track to start putting this in place as of Friday,” he said. “This will be a little different from a citizen’s standpoint as it will change what they are used to. This will deliver the care that they need.”
He said this should reduce the stress on the system and leave the ambulances available for the high acuity calls.
There is also a telehealth aspect of this that will be part of Nurse Navigation. If the nurse decides that the patient should need a doctor they will be able to talk to a doctor on their phone or computer.
“Telehealth has been used predominantly since the pandemic began and it is working well,” he said.
The council also appointed Isaiah Logan to the Planning and Zoning Commission; approved the use of the downtown square by the Cameron Chamber of Commerce for Steak, Stein and Wine Festival, Trunk or Treat, and the Christmas Parade.
During a special meeting Friday, Cameron City Council voted to allow Mayor Bill Harris to negotiate a contract with the next city manager candidate. Earlier in the week, the Council had elected not to move forward with offering a contract to their first candidate, former Cameron City Manager Ricky Tow. The name of the second candidate was not made public.
No action was taken in closed session during the meeting Monday night.