By Zendelle Bouchard
At its meeting on October 3, 2023, the Sanford City Council voted to enter into a service contract with the Maine Department of Public Safety for the creation of a Community Paramedicine Program within the Sanford Fire Department. The City has received a $100,000 grant to begin funding the program, which will start with one full-time Community Paramedic providing mobile and in-home care through referrals from a physician.
The goal of the program is to serve those members of our community who struggle to meet their healthcare needs on their own, including the elderly, homebound and unhoused. Services provided will include physical exams, lab work, medication assistance and vaccinations. Care will be provided for people with chronic conditions including diabetes, congestive heart failure and pulmonary diseases.
The program is expected to result in reduced 911 calls and emergency room visits, making Sanford’s overall health care system more efficient while keeping residents healthier.
“We’re on the right track to change a lot of lives through this,” said Assistant Fire Chief Rick Smith, who spearheaded the effort to design the program and get the grant. In addition to the initial grant, which is expected to be received annually, Smith is applying for an $80,000 grant from Maine CDC to enable the program to offer additional services, as well as grants from other agencies to cover the cost of equipment and a vehicle. “We’re trying to make this very low impact to the City but have great value to the people who live here,” he added.
The Community Paramedic will be overseen by the Fire Chief, Assistant Chiefs and Medical Director, and will work closely with Nasson Healthcare and Southern Maine Health Care, as well as with members of the Sanford Police Department’s Mental Health Unit.
City Manager Steve Buck told the Council he expects the program to generate a revenue stream, so at some point in the future, they can consider expanding beyond one position.
Look for more information on the program as it gets closer to implementation.