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EMT to community paramedic

Published (2/18/2011)
By Patty Ostberg
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To help fill gaps in underserved communities, emergency medical technicians could be certified as community paramedics, under a bill approved by the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee Feb. 16. It now goes to the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Tara Mack (R-Apple Valley), HF262 would define the new role as an “Emergency medical technician-community paramedic” and require a training program from an accredited college or university. Under the guidance of an ambulance medical director, the EMT-P could monitor and provide some treatment to patients with chronic disease, and perform minor medical procedures intended to prevent ambulatory or emergency room services. The human services commissioner would establish the payment rate for the services.

Mike Wilcox, a family practice doctor testifying in support of the bill, said those in rural and remote areas of the state would have better access to health care.

Linda Hamilton, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, said the position is “public health nursing without the nursing license.” While the role of a community paramedic could benefit patients, they would need education on how to treat chronic diseases.

Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) said the bill doesn’t clarify when a paramedic’s work ends and a nurse’s work begins. As a trained nurse, she said, there is a defined scope of practice for nurses and EMTs, the EMT-P’s scope needs more definition so that patients know what types of services they should expect from each specialty.

A Senate companion, SF119, sponsored by Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), was recommended to pass Feb. 16 by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

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