Satellite Beach’s paramedics now operating 24/7

The City of Satellite Beach has expanded its Community Paramedic Program to operate 24 hours a day, which will mean more in-home help for more residents battling chronic medical issues.

Approximately 100 residents currently get help from city paramedics, including a weekly visit and exam; EKG, blood glucose and oxygen saturation tests; medication review and help with compliance; nutrition review and other services, according to the city website, and that number will now increase.

The Satellite Beach Fire Department created the Community Paramedic program in 2007 as a way to “enhance the overall patient healthcare experience, improve the overall health of our population and reduce healthcare costs,” according to the city website.

Program coordinator Paramedic Melanie Drake, who has been providing healthcare to residents since the service began, explained the origin of the program.

“We were going out and doing environmental home safety checks looking for loose rugs, [electric cords and other hazards]. We started tracking data points about falls, and a lot of time it was because of medical issues and not because of a fall hazard in the home,’’ she said.

More than half the current 100 participants in the program require significant medical care due to diabetes, COPD, cardiac problems, depression and other conditions.

Besides first-hand, in-person services, paramedics coordinate additional care from various health and social service organizations to stabilize residents’ medical conditions and improve their quality of life.

In the early days of the program “we were doing basically everything, including picking up their prescriptions. We kind of got burned out,’’ said Drake, who shares home healthcare duties with firefighter paramedic/community paramedic Eric Tippins.

Over time, the service morphed into its current form as a “mobile integrated health” program that is much more efficient by bringing in other healthcare professionals and health-related services.

Besides quarterbacking healthcare and physical therapy in the patient’s home, paramedics work closely with the patient and family to assist with the patient’s discharge from the hospital. They also coordinate follow-up care with the primary care doctor. “We make sure they are going down the path of getting all those things lined up for them and fixed. They learn how to manage their conditions,’’ Drake said.

Community paramedics become a constant source of caring for the patient and that relationship can help when important decisions need to be made, Tippins said. “We go in and build that rapport with them so we can offer suggestions and be able to act on those recommendations. It’s hard but sometimes we have to say, ‘It’s no longer safe for you to live here.’ It helps that we’ve built that rapport. Sometimes it takes a suggestion by someone who is not family.”

To achieve 24-hour coverage, additional paramedics will now be available when both Tippins and Drake are off duty.

For more information, contact Satellite Beach Fire Department weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 321 773-4405,

Ext. 4.

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