The organization purchased two buildings from H & O Auto Sales at 1024 South Boston Road for $675,000 and plans to move its community paramedicine program into one of them. It will be the group’s eastside station and it will provide a location for its rescue squad.
Started in 2017, the community paramedicine program offers help for patients with chronic conditions for non-emergent issues, such as guidance on how to take care of themselves and connecting them with health care resources in the area.
Establishment of the program was meant to reduce the number of non-emergency 911 calls, said Brian Wilson, a member of the Danville Lifesaving Crew’s advisory board and the board of directors for the Danville Area Training Center.
“These people need help,” Wilson told city officials and representatives from public safety organizations during a joint meeting between Danville City Council and the Danville Life Saving Crew on Tuesday evening. “The community paramedicine program allows us to go see these people and provide them with the services they need.”
The Danville Life Saving Crew, a nonprofit organization, has locations at 121 Maplewood St. and at the Clayton T. Lester Crew Hall at 202 Christopher Lane. The crew also uses the Danville Area Training Center at 630 Randolph St. for training.
The joint meeting was held at the Danville Area Training Center on Randolph Street.
The community paramedicine program has two offices — one at the training center and the other at the crew’s northside station. But two new employees were recently hired and the program needs more space, said Johnny Mills, director of special projects and community paramedicine for the crew.
Hundreds of Danville residents who suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, asthma, and other ailments heavily rely on EMS for basic health care, according to the crew’s 2021 report.
“The need to serve these chronic conditions pulls valuable resources away from the 911 system, required for intense emergencies like heart attacks, strokes, major vehicle crashes or other life-threatening incidents,” the report states.
With the community paramedicine program, EMTs can reach out to residents with chronic illnesses and help them live independent and successful lives, according to the report.
“This provides a missing link between health care and social services to ensure the chronically ill have increased access to health care and community services,” the report states.
During the meeting, Wilson presented the crew’s 2021 annual report and information about the community paramedicine program.
“[The $1.2 million] for renovation at the eastside station allows us to move forward with that project,” Wilson told City Council members and other attendees. “I think the investment is minimal compared to what is going to come out of that. I think you’ll be satisfied.”
Following Wilson’s request, Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones told Wilson that city officials have started budget discussions for the next fiscal year.
“We’re going to look into it,” Jones said, referring to Wilson’s request.
City Councilman James Buckner echoed Jones’ statements.
“We’re interested in digging into it and taking a look at exactly what we can do,” Buckner said.
Councilmen Barry Mayo, Sherman Saunders, Larry Campbell and Vice Mayor Gary Miller did not attend the meeting.
New patients are added to the community paramedicine program through the organization monitoring patients who dial 911 two or more times per month and accepting referrals from community health care partners, according to the report.
With that information, the program’s coordinator meets with residents who need its services. Those clients are removed from the 911 monitoring list once their needs are met and they do not call 911 for four consecutive months, according to the report.
Community paramedics and health workers work with patients and connect them to needed services including food pickup and delivery; medication and medical supplies pickup, delivery and review; medical equipment orientation for use; help with medical or legal forms; and well-being checks, according to the report.
The paramedicine team supported more than 300 individuals in 2021, providing direct communication, wellness checks, health care alignment and health support services.
Currently, the program has two small offices — one for staff meetings at the northside station and another at the Danville Area Training Center where patient records are kept, Mills said.
There is no space for community health workers to make phone calls to patients. Also, staff have to travel to the training center for patient records, Mills said. The new location will solve that issue.
“This will allow a common area to work out of,” Mills said.
The new space would allow use for a conference room for teaching classes to patients and space to meet with health care partners and patients, Mills said.
As for 911 calls overall, the crew responded to 15,770 calls in 2021, double the 7,736 calls it responded to in 2017. About two-thirds, or 68%, of calls last year were medical emergencies, while the rest were convalescence transport, interfacility or air transports and car crashes, standbys, drone calls, accidents and mutual aid standbys, according to the report.
Of the total 2021 calls, 10,750 came from dispatches at its station at 202 Christopher Lane and 5,020 dispatches were at the crew’s northside station at 121 Maplewood St., according to the report.
With growth coming to the city, including the upcoming Caesars Virginia casino scheduled to open in late 2024, those numbers will only increase, Wilson told officials at Tuesday’s meeting.
“It’s going to go up when Caesars comes in and all these folks flood to the city,” Wilson said, adding that the growth will be great for Danville. “There’s going to be bigger numbers.”