Published on March 23, 2017

Generous Lions Club Donation to Provide Special Chairs for Two Heart Failure Patients in New Community Paramedicine Program

Reading Health System has embarked on a community partnership that is improving the health of congestive heart failure patients who are discharged from Reading Health's inpatient unit and need in-home support. On Friday, March 24, two patients in the program will receive special chairs to aid in their recovery, thanks to a generous donation from a local Lions Club.

With a grant from the Reading Health System Foundation, the Community Paramedicine Program employs state-certified paramedics from Schuylkill Valley EMS in Leesport, Pa., to provide in-home support after discharge to certain congestive heart failure patients who don't qualify for this important care through their insurance.

On Friday, the Shillington Lions Club Foundation is delivering special chairs for two congestive heart failure patients in the program. The chairs help reduce patients' swelling and fluid retention, and they have lifts that make it easier and safer for patients to get out of the chair.

Under the Community Paramedicine Program, paramedics visit with qualifying patients prior to discharge. Then, they provide follow-up visits at patients' homes to conduct physical assessments and to ensure patients' living conditions are safe, they understand and are able to follow medication schedules and diet restrictions, and have support services such as transportation to appointments.

"This program focuses on the full needs of the patient, including their health needs, social needs and home environment to improve their health and lifestyle," said Charles Barbera, MD, Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Reading Health System. "We are so appreciative of the paramedics' skill and dedication. Patients are improving because the paramedics are evaluating every aspect of their situation and walking alongside them in their home."

The paramedics visit four times in the first month after discharge, then also on Day 60 and Day 90 after discharge. Other community partners in the program are the Berks Community Health Center and Central Hispano Interpreters.

Similar paramedic programs in other parts of the country have shown that patients who receive this at-home care are more likely to attend follow-up medical appointments and comply with medication and dietary restrictions, and they are less likely to have to visit the Emergency Department or be readmitted to the hospital.