The NVC Community Health Worker program (CHW) prepares students to work in public health, private health care delivery systems, community-based social service agencies, and health care insurance organizations. CHWs provide services to increase wellness and improve access to health services through outreach activities to target populations. Program emphasis is on health education, health promotion, and community outreach.
It was due to this focus on prevention and advocacy that a new partnership was established this spring between the San Antonio Fire Department and NVC. Dr. Fernando Martinez, program coordinator of NVC's CHW program, said his office was approached to train eight Fire Department Emergency Medical Technicians as CHWs. The Fire Department believed the CHW training would support the pilot program, Mobile Integrated Health System (MIHS). This program aspires to improve the wellness and healthcare delivery for city residents. The intent is to provide patient centered healthcare including medical assessment and preventive healthcare education tailored to the medical needs of the individual. EMTs will also connect individuals with appropriate social services to allow the paramedics to act in a proactive non‐emergency capacity.
One of the goals of the program is to reduce the number of frequent callers to the Fire Department emergency line. In 2014, 302 frequent callers were tracked by the Department. A frequent caller is an individual who calls 10-plus times during the year. This group of residents resulted in 5,122 hours invested by the Fire Department. As part of the MIHS program, the EMTs get enhanced medical training that will now include NVC's CHW program. In an article in the San Antonio Express News about this new partnership, the new project has already helped reduce calls by this target group “to the Fire Department by 65 percent and to the Police Department by 73 percent."
NVC believes the partnership will benefit both organizations with the EMTs able to contribute to the learning experiences of other CHW students. It also allows NVC to partner with the EMTs and existing CHWs at Metro Health Neighborhood Engagement to reduce those 'frequent callers' and follow up with them.
San Antonio is not alone in this program as more police and fire departments are moving to preventive health. Emergency Medical Technicians from Austin and Schertz may also enroll in NVC's program and are looking at modeling the same initiative found in San Antonio.