By Charlotte Huff
Kaiser Health News
FORT WORTH, Texas — Her mother’s breathing had become labored in the wee hours of the night, during what would prove to be the Fort Worth woman’s final days living with lung cancer. Distraught, the daughter called 911.
“Her mother was having some pretty severe shortness of breath,” said Tim Gattis, the third paramedic to arrive on scene late last year. “She was certainly working very hard to obtain a breath, and was just not being successful.”
Gattis pulled up in a sports utility vehicle shortly after the ambulance had arrived, and the first two responders were already loading the 64-year-old woman into the back. The daughter was insisting that her mother go straight to the hospital, Gattis said.
But the role of Gattis and other Fort Worth paramedics trained for this type of hospice support — part of a local partnership with VITAS Healthcare, the country’s largest hospice organization — is to spend a longer stretch of time on the scene to determine if the symptoms that triggered the 911 call can be addressed without a trip to the emergency room.
MedStar Mobile Healthcare, a governmental agency created to provide ambulance services for Fort Worth and 14 nearby cities, is one of several ambulance providers nationwide that have teamed up with local hospice agencies.
The paramedic backup, enthusiasts argue, not only helps more hospice patients remain at home, but also reduces the potential for costlier and likely unnecessary care. [Read more…] about For some hospice patients, a 911 call saves a trip to the ER