Mobile paramedic unit reducing ER trips and the cost of calling 911

WEYMOUTH, Mass. — When a 911 medical call comes in around much of the state, an ambulance is dispatched and a person is usually rushed to a hospital.

But a pilot program by EasCare in Weymouth is changing that.

A small sport utility vehicle packed with medical equipment and supplies is responding instead. Paramedics like Jim Quinn show up alone.

"Here, our goal is to show up, do an advanced assessment, use our advanced skills and try to keep the patient home and still receiving similar type care that they would receive in the emergency room," Quinn explained.

The idea behind the program is to send ambulances to serious emergencies and then these SUVs respond at night. The paramedic in the mobile unit sometimes spends more than an hour with patients.

"We've really been able to touch a lot of lives and it's those individual cases and being able to sit with the patient for an extended period of time and really listen and solve their issues," Joseph Hughes, with EasCare said.

A local non-profit health care group studied the program and found, in the first year, 81 percent of the patients treated by this team was able to stay home.

The other 19 percent were taken to the hospital for emergency care.

Hughes oversees it and says the program could result in a significant drop in money spent by patients and taxpayers.

"Reducing overall spending for them means better savings for everybody else," he said.

It's been so successful that it's now expanding beyond EasCare and now is an option for all EMS agencies across the Commonwealth and a potential game-changer in how people get help.

It makes a huge difference between cost savings, patient satisfaction and the overall healthcare that they're getting healthy at home, not going to the hospital, not the negative outcome.

EasCare has helped three thousand patients with this mobile team. An overwhelming majority of them have not needed to go to the emergency room.

The company says that number will only rise with more of these teams out there.