QUAPAW, Okla. — The Department of Health and Human Services awarded the Quapaw Nation nearly $300,000, which will fund the tribe’s Community Paramedic Program through 2022.
The funding is part of a rural health initiative to increase health care access and strengthen health networks in rural communities during COVID-19. The Quapaw Nation’s grant will exclusively support the Community Paramedic Program.
Community resource paramedic programs typically cost less and more effectively assess the needs of patients who would otherwise make numerous calls to 911 or multiple trips to the hospital for non-emergency health care needs.
Community Paramedic Kyle Arnell, who works under the Quapaw Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department, made 57 home visits last month alone. He said the grant provides is crucial to helping Ottawa county residents manage their health at home.
“We have had a very positive impact,” Arnell said. “A lot of the patients I see are older folks who live by themselves. They need medical attention, but even just having someone stop by and talk with them has been helpful.”
The Quapaw Nation launched a Community Paramedic Program to encourage vulnerable populations to stay home and take pressure off emergency paramedics during the pandemic.
Quapaw Nation Business Committee Member Zach Turley said the program has helped keep service medics available for higher emergency calls.
“We saw a dramatic dip in the number of emergency calls we had just by having a paramedic who was able to go and check on people,” Turley said. “They no longer felt like they had to dial 911 to talk to someone they trusted.”
Besides home visits, the Community Paramedic Program also conducts home safety surveys to assess fall risks, connect people with social services, and check on patients with telemedicine. Ottawa County residents interested in the Community Paramedic Program’s services can reach out to Kyle Arnell for an assessment at firstname.lastname@example.org.