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Harris Regional Hospital Community Paramedicine Program shows great success in increasing rural access to healthcare

SYLVA – May 16th to the 22nd celebrates the 46th annual National EMS Week. Over the last year, the pandemic gave people a small glimpse of the vital role of EMS professionals. The sacrifice and dedication of EMTs, paramedics and other EMS practitioners has rightfully earned them admiration and gratitude in their communities.

This past year, even given the pandemic, Harris Regional Hospital’s Community Paramedicine Program has seen great success. The ‘community paramedicine’ program serves local patients returning home from the hospital. In the program, Harris Regional Hospital EMS paramedics conduct home visits with patients 24 to 48 hours after discharge from the hospital. The goal of each visit is to ensure the patient has made a successful transition from hospital to home and to check on any needs he or she may have.

Hospital providers assisting with the patient’s discharge from the hospital make a referral to community paramedicine and explain to the patient and family how the program works. During the visit, paramedics check vital signs and ensure the patient understands discharge instructions. North Carolina is one of five states implementing community paramedicine programs– aimed at increasing access to care in rural communities.

“In the first few moments of returning home from a stay in the hospital, the community paramedicine program provides essential information and support to the patient, checking vitals and reviewing discharge information. Paramedicine visits ensure a smoother transition home, reducing the likelihood of readmission, and improves EMS services in Jackson County,” said Matthew Burrell, EMS Manager for Harris Regional Hospital.

The community paramedicine program has served over 70 households since the official launch of the program roughly one-year ago. In that time, the team has seen great success in helping their community as they continue to grow. The Program Coordinator at Harris Regional Hospital, Cristian Mireles says, “It has been great for me to witness how this program has helped our patients stay happy health and at home.”

Overall, Harris Regional Hospital EMS services, have served the area for 25 years. Harris Regional Hospital has operated EMS services for Jackson County since January 1, 1996. Last year, Harris Regional Hospital EMS answered 6,708 calls across the county, which is a 20% increase in four years. As Harris EMS grows, they continue to find better ways to serve the surrounding communities.

To learn more about the Community Paramedicine Program, visit  or call 828-507-0032.

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