MoonshotP2 project looking for volunteers for Community Response Team
The same group that brought the OnMed Integrated Health Station to Milam County Is looking for a few volunteers to help with a community response team.
The Moonshot P2 project is looking for volunteers to begin a volunteer response team to extend the “golden hour” for patients in Milam County who can help their neighbors when critical care is needed.
They are currently looking for 20-30 volunteers in Milam County to test the VolEMS Community Response Program.
Members of the team will help when EMS can’t get to patients, such as when one of the county’s ambulances is not in close proximity to the patient. A volunteer will be sent out to help that patient while they wait for the ambulance to arrive.
The Moonshot initiative, a $10 million grant through Blue Cross Blue Shield, is funding a research project to find a solution to the loss of health care services in rural communities across the country.
Dr. Joy Alonzo, with Texas A&M Health Science Center, and her team chose Milam County as a pilot project for several different things that will help with emergency response in the county. She said they chose the county due to the recent closure of the hospitals and its proximity to College Station.
Alonzo said Texas has lost about 15 critical access hospitals in the last year.
The project is working to establish a volunteer EMT corps across the county to respond when all of the ambulances are out on call.
The grant will fund a phone app and medical supply bags for the responders. They are hoping to get 30 volunteers for this project. This will help extend the “golden hour” for patients.
The volunteer corps will consist of members of the community with, at minimum, Red Cross Basic Life Saving, CPS and ACEP “Until Help Arrives” training.
Volunteers will use a phone app to facilitate notification, response and acceptance of the incident.
Community volunteers must be 18 years old, have a valid driver license and auto liability insurance, pass a background check, be in good physical condition and have access to an iPhone.
Alonzo said they program is hoping to establish training and be able to leave Milam County with the response program when funding is used up.
Rural and critical access hospitals are viewed as the healthcare nucleus for many rural communities, providing service to nearly 20 percent of the US population, and a closure results in potentially inadequate access to care. Texas is particularly hard hit, as seventeen rural hospitals in Texas have closed since 2010, the most of any state.
When a rural hospital closes, the economic losses can devastate an already stressed community through loss of health care workers, emergency services, and primary care capacity, as well as lower per-capita income, impacts to property values, poorer health and increasing health disparities.
As healthcare services dissipate, and social determinants of health suffer, the result is declining community health metrics. One of the more challenging issues is the access to the next closest hospital for urgent and emergent care. About a third of hospitals that have closed since 2013 are more than 20 miles from the next closest hospital, increasing the risk of poor outcomes for conditions requiring urgent care including trauma and cardiovascular conditions.
Alonzo said this project will develop and evaluate innovative technologies, strategies, and processes to address the gap in urgent and emergent care created by the loss of two rural hospitals in Milam County.
“These technologies, strategies, and processes will be informed by healthcare metrics and healthcare utilization of the community, both before and after the hospital closure, and a community engagement framework will be used to construct community consensus around selected innovations that address the urgent and emergent care gaps and other health care impacts and social determinants of health,” she said. “Innovative technology and strategies will address healthcare gaps and support healthcare providers with the goal of informing best practices for rural areas. The end goal is to produce a template of activities, strategies, and technologies that can be employed in other rural areas with limited or reduced access to health care.”
The purpose of the BCBS Moonshot Project 2 is to sustain community access to local and distant healthcare through leveraging technology and innovative transportation and care delivery models with the goals of managing healthcare costs and improving outcomes of chronic disease.
If you would like to be a community volunteer or find out more about the VolEMS Community Response Program in Milam County, visit www.moonshotp2.tamu.edu, email MooshotP2@tamu.edu or call (979) 204-3891.