Doctor hand touching first aid sign on virtual screen

At its Sept. 14 meeting, the Goodyear City Council unanimously approved to continue a community paramedicine program with Peoria and Surprise— though with some changes. 

The Community Paramedicine Program, funded by a $175,000 United Healthcare grant, coordinates care for patients that would otherwise use the 911 system, according to Goodyear Fire Chief Paul Luizzi.

“We began seeing patients in early November,” Luizzi said. “Unfortunately, we had to pause operations because of COVID.”

Luizzi said the program proactively engages with patients who use 911 more than three times in a month or more than 12 times in a year. He said qualified paramedics provide support for the city’s most vulnerable residents and reduce the burden on hospital emergency departments.

“Some of our goals are to reduce the emergent use and the non-emergent use of the 911 system and reduce the readmission rate for the three-day, seven-day and 30-day patients,” Luizzi said.

He said in the first five months of the program, 225 patients were contacted. Patients are assessed and often given referrals for community-based programs.

According to Luizzi, the program’s expanding referral network includes Benevilla, Brookdale, Care First, Area Agency on Aging, Crisis Response Network, Home Instead, Hospice of the Valley and Meals of Joy.

He said one retirement home has been particularly active in the program.

“We actually had the most participation, this time so far, with Del Webb,” Luizzi said. “They actually started referring patients to us that they wanted us to follow up on. They were really high-risk patients.”

Councilman Joe Pizzillo asked Luizzi about Abrazo or other hospital partnerships.

Luizzi said there are ongoing discussions with Abrazo and added he remains “hopeful” those partnerships will continue.

Councilwoman Wally Campbell described witnessing a “scared” 95-year-old patient, without immediate family, who received medical attention from a community paramedic.

“He was scared. He didn’t know what to do,” Campbell recalled. “The professionalism that our crew showed him, and the concern and the caring, changed his whole demeanor. He was not afraid anymore”

Mayor Georgia Lord added, “We hear time after time ‘partnership’ in the West Valley, and this is a prime example of that. This brings us all closer together, especially when you talk about health and life.”