CHANDLER, Arizona – The Chandler Fire, Health & Medical (CFHM) Department is collaborating with the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Healthcare System on an innovative six month pilot project that both organizations hope will not only improve healthcare outcomes for thousands of area veterans, but also serve as a model program for fire departments around the nation. The new Community Involvement and Intervention Project is bringing CFHM and Veterans Administration (VA) medical resources together to help ensure Chandler veterans are receiving timely and appropriate healthcare, including proactive scheduling of follow-up medical services. For more information about the pilot project between the Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department and the Phoenix VA, call 480-782-2120, or visit www.chandleraz.gov/fire. “Our primary goal of this partnership is to connect every Chandler veteran with the Phoenix VA healthcare services that they not only need, but deserve,” said Fire Chief Jeff Clark. “Chandler firefighters and paramedics will serve as the eyes, ears, and hands of the VA medical staff. They will use their assessment skills in tandem with telehealth technology to provide VA care providers with the crucial information they need to make informed decisions regarding veterans’ health care.” Chandler Fire Health & Medical Department’s progressive approach to service delivery, willingness to innovate, and existing Community Paramedicine program made it an ideal partner for the Phoenix VA Healthcare System. Chandler uses two, two-person Community Paramedic crews that focus on providing services to individuals who have chronic medical needs that often result in numerous visits to the hospital emergency room. By being proactive and targeting certain patients for more attentive short term intervention, Community Paramedics can help these patients manage their healthcare needs while potentially reducing their medical costs, and decreasing the frequency of 9-1-1 calls and ER visits. The pilot project was approved by Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and the City Council on Monday, Dec. 7, and CFHM Community Paramedics began visiting veterans and facilitating care with Phoenix VA Healthcare staff the next morning. Many of the emergency medical calls that CFHM personnel respond to each day involve patients who are military veterans. These calls vary from serious medical situations and behavior related issues to calls that are less serious in nature. During this pilot program, CFHM first responders will screen patients to identify those who are veterans and then help start the process to connect them to VA medical services and benefits. Part of the veteran’s follow up treatment during this pilot program will involve in-home visits from specially trained CFHM Community Paramedics who will assess the health care needs of the patient during a telehealth medical appointment with a VA nurse practitioner via mobile tablets. The inclusion of telemedicine is one of the unique aspects of the program. It places advanced teleconferencing technology into the hands of the paramedics who are visiting the patient, and enables face-to-face communication with the healthcare professionals at the VA. “The Phoenix VA has some unique informational database and analytical capabilities that enable us to utilize the power of predictive modeling,” said Dr. Hamed Abbaszadegan, Chief Health Informatics Officer with the Phoenix VA Healthcare System. “The analytics help us identify which chronic care patients are most likely to call 9-1-1, and why and when that might happen. If we can reach out to a patient before something happens, we might be able to prevent an emergency. This partnership with Chandler Fire, Health & Medical will help us do that.” Early in the process, State Representative Bob Robson of Chandler was instrumental in connecting the VA with Chandler officials to begin the discussion of the pilot program. Chief Clark notes that the Intergovernmental Agreement with the VA will not require the City to expend any additional funds. “We are utilizing programs and resources that are already in existence,” he said. “But now, if a patient is a veteran, we have additional resources to get that patient the quality healthcare they earned by serving this country in the armed forces.” Video: Chandler, Arizona Fire Department Begins Pilot Veteran Health Program “We value veterans in our community, and this partnership between the VA and our Fire, Health & Medical Department reinforces our commitment to being a “˜Veteran Friendly City,’” said Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny. “Through this program, we are connecting patients with the people and the care that they need — and that will make a huge difference in the lives of Chandler veterans.”
by Mike Smith In national politics the only meaningful victory is one where you completely vanquish your opponent. A compromise is a defeat. An attempt to understand an opposing view is interpreted as lacking conviction in your cause, or, worse, disloyalty to a political party. One side is portrayed as always despicably wrong, while the other side contends it is always virtuous and right. Promotion of your cause must come at the complete denigration of your opponent’s view, or even the destruction of their character. There are no rhetorical boundaries. You say anything in order to win the debate.This is, unfortunately, Washington, D.C., nowadays and the reality of our politics. Nothing illustrates this more than the ongoing debate over the future direction of health care. This debate is emblematic of all that is wrong with our politics.Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as most call it; Democrats want it retained. Some Democrats have said that repeal of the Affordable Care Act will mean Americans will die. Some Republicans counter that retaining Obamacare is too expensive and will ultimately result in the collapse of our health care system — although they have yet to put forth an alternative plan. By design politicians want us to believe that we either will die or we’ll wind up destitute, depending on which political side of the health care debate we fall on. For the most part, both sides are engaged in rhetorical gamesmanship, where certain words are hyped to catch our attention — or perhaps to scare us — but with the ultimate goal of dividing rather than uniting us.Obamacare is indeed becoming unaffordable, and in many parts of the country options are limited. If trends continue, it is unsustainable in its current form. It is a broken system that needs to be fixed. Democrats must admit to this fact. But on the other hand, Obamacare has provided millions of Americans with health care coverage, and if you wish to replace it then you must provide details of what a new health care system will look like, what it will cost and who is covered. Republicans must admit to this fact.But in modern-day politics acknowledging these facts dilutes the message. So facts often become bothersome details, obstacles to the ultimate goal of winning. There has to be a conqueror and a conquered. It’s political warfare without any possibility of a truce. There are always opportunities for compromise, but both sides look past those possibilities because to do otherwise is a sign of political weakness. In the end, all of this frustrates most Americans. This should worry politicians of both parties. If Americans lose confidence in, and support for, our governmental institutions such as Congress, the presidency, and our court systems, then our political system could be in jeopardy.History has shown that a democracy is constantly vulnerable. As Americans, we think of our democracy as indestructible, even perpetual. But is it? The playwright Sam Shepard is quoted as saying, “Democracy’s a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy. As soon as you stop being responsible to it and allow it to turn into scare tactics, it’s no longer democracy, is it? It’s something else. It may be an inch away from totalitarianism.”The question that we must all ask ourselves is where are we headed as a country? But perhaps just as important is the answer to this question: Where are our leaders taking us?Mike Smith is the host of the radio program, “Open Mike with Mike Smith,” on WDEV 550 AM and 96.1, 96.5, 98.3 and 101.9 FM. He is also a political analyst for WCAX-TV and WVMT radio and is a regular contributor to Vermont Business Magazine, The Times Argus and Rutland Herald. He was the secretary of administration and secretary of human services under former Gov. Jim Douglas.