Driving change: South Park Ambulance District improves access to care through regional collaboration

Marginalized populations & geographically isolated receive better access to behavioral health services and other in-home care with two unique programs

 

 

Fairplay, COLO. (May 2, 2024) — The South Park Ambulance District (SPAD) has partnered with Ute Pass Regional Health Service District (UPRAD) and the Park County Mental Health Alliance (PCMHA) to address a growing need for behavioral health services and other in-home, non-emergency care for more than 17,000 Coloradoans. Residents of Park County now have greater access to care related to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders as well as mobile urgent care services for certain illnesses and minor injuries through two programs offered in this unique regional collaboration.

 

The Mental Health Assessment Program (MHAP) was started in Teller County in 2014 by the UPRAD and expanded to neighboring Park County in September of 2023 through the newly formed SPAD partnership.

 

To kickstart the program, the PCMHA, which exists to promote a balanced, responsive continuum of behavioral and mental health services for all of Park County, did an assessment, determined the need and pursued official support from the state to bring MHAP to Park County. SPAD supports MHAP by providing one paramedic, a location to keep a vehicle and an office with a bed for UPRAD. This program responds to calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

 

“Generally speaking, paramedics are trained in episodic care,” said James “Tiny” McLaughlin, UPRAD patient-aligned care team/mobile integrated healthcare director. “For this program, we took a group of paramedics and we trained them utilizing an international curriculum called the International Roundtable of People in Paramedics which teaches paramedics the biopsychosocial model of medicine. By training community paramedics in the biopsychosocial model of medicine, we understand the social determinants of health. Those are the things that drive health care needs and drive health care outcomes.”

 

In the first quarter of 2024 alone, MHAP fielded 89 calls in Park County related to mental health, suicide threats and substance abuse.

 

“We know there is a growing need for behavioral health services in our rural region,” SPAD Chief Paramedic Kevin Borns said. “The MHAP program seeks to increase access to care for marginalized populations and the geographically isolated that live in our community. Our paramedics are in the field already and are trained to identify and understand behavioral health needs so they can either provide care on scene appropriately, get support for care on scene or transport safely without the need for an ambulance or emergency room.”

 

In addition to MHAP, the Healthcare Options Mobility and Engagement (HOME) Program executed by SPAD and UPRAD seeks to bring back the concept of a house call. Since Park County has no emergency room or urgent care center, residents would otherwise need to travel out of the county for emergent or urgent care. A board-certified emergency physician oversees the HOME Program which provides in-home care with lab testing capabilities including COVID, flu, RSV, strep, pregnancy, urinalysis and the ability to administer antibiotics – all in the comfort of home which saves an expensive and unnecessary ambulance ride.

 

Through state grants and the support of the PCMHA and UPRAD, SPAD now provides more thorough and effective healthcare for residents experiencing a variety of physical and mental health needs.

 

“These programs would not exist without the partnership with South Park Ambulance District and the cooperation of Chief Kevin Borns,” McLaughlin said.

 

For more information about SPAD, visit southparkambulance.com.

 

About South Park Ambulance District:

 

The South Park Ambulance District (SPAD) has been providing 911/advanced life support emergency medical services to 1,500 square miles of Park County, Colo., since Jan. 1, 1992. Headquartered in Fairplay, and with additional stations in Hartsel and Michigan Creek, Colo., SPAD is staffed 24/7 with three paramedic-level crews. They co-respond with three fire protection districts on all emergency incidents. SPAD responds to over 1,200 requests for emergency assistance annually. Sixty percent of incidents result in an ambulance arriving on scene within 15 minutes from the Fairplay headquarters. For more information, visit southparkambulance.com.

 

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