BVFD Community Paramedics screening patients for COVID-19
Bella Vista Fire Department (BVFD) and EMS is deploying its state-licensed Community Paramedics (CPs) to aid in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
Working with Northwest Medical Plaza – Sugar Creek and Dr. Scott Musick and his staff, BVFD CPs will offer in-home testing for COVID-19 as needed following pre-screenings and telemedicine visits for patients who meet certain criteria. This coordinated effort between a health system and a municipal EMS is an attempt to help limit those who think they might be infected from going out in public and to provide an option for those who wish to continue to isolate in place.
People who live in Bella Vista and are concerned they may have coronavirus (COVID-19) may call 479-306-7507 between 8am - 5 pm Monday through Friday for an initial telephone screening. IF the person meets the screening requirements for COVID-19 or needs any other medical assistance, then a telehealth appointment will be facilitated with Northwest Medical Plaza – Sugar Creek. Dr. Musick and his team will then take care of the patient including determining if a CP needs to be dispatched to the person's house.
If it is determined the individual needs to be tested, a CP will arrive in a BVFD marked vehicle at the patient’s home and in full personal protective equipment, including gown and respirator mask. The CP will meet with the patient outside the home and then be fully decontaminated following each home visit.
Patients could be tested also for the flu virus and strep.
“It’s important for patients to understand that we aren’t just coming to everyone’s houses to test them for the virus,” Bella Vista Battalion Chief and CP Director Ronnie Crupper said. “This service will be reserved for those who meet certain requirements during a pre-screening call and who then require an in-home assessment, including a facilitated virtual visit with a physician or advanced practitioner and possible further testing done in the patient’s home.”
There is a limited supply of COVID-19 tests available and these are reserved for symptomatic patients. People who are not symptomatic do not need to be tested for COVID-19. This is allergy season, and allergy symptoms, such as sneezing or itchy eyes, nose or throat, do not indicate a need for testing. The priority is testing those with symptoms of COVID-19 infection – fever, cough or shortness of breath.
If you are sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises mildly ill patients should be encouraged to stay home and contact their healthcare provider by phone for guidance about clinical management. Patients who have severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek care immediately. Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness.
This service will be offered to patients based on available resources of the department during business hours, Monday through Friday, and is in no way intended to diagnose patients with COVID-19.
“Bella Vista Fire Department is able to offer this service because we already have state-licensed Community Paramedics on our staff,” Fire Chief Steve Sims said. “We are happy to aid the region and the state in any way possible to combat the spread of this pandemic.”