Preventive health program will monitor well-being of seniors
DEXTER — A preventive health program involving the elderly started this week under the direction of the Dexter Ambulance Service.
When the two daytime emergency medical technicians are on duty and aren’t responding to emergency calls, they visit elderly residents in senior citizens housing units to check on their general welfare.
During the visit, the medical technicians check the vitals of the elderly residents, record any medicines they may be on and determine if there are any medical or other needs required. The EMTs also chat with them a bit to get a feel for their living arrangements and make sure the senior citizens are aware they should dial 911 in an emergency.
This information will be vital to the ambulance service and to the elderly who may need emergency medical assistance in the future, according to Mel Thurlow, ambulance director. “If we get a call to one of these homes, we’ll know what the [medical] history is,” Thurlow said.
The visits are being hailed by the elderly, who are thrilled with the attention. “I think it’s wonderful because they straightened me out on a couple of my medicines,” said Cecil Gudroe.
Gudroe, 65, received a 45-minute visit from the EMTs on Thursday. “It took them that long because I am on so many medicines,” he said. Gudroe said he had been confused about how much and when he should take some of the 19 drugs prescribed to him. His confusion was eliminated with the EMTs’ help. “I felt so relieved when they left,” he said.
Thurlow, who learned of similar programs at a recent seminar, said the senior citizens program also helps the local public health agency. He said the EMTs will make referrals to public health nurses if a senior citizen appears to be unclean and in need of some assistance.
Since the program began this week, Thurlow said he has been asked to stop and check on the welfare of other senior citizens who live in town outside of the housing units. EMTs are happy to make the visits, he said, because it allows them to obtain all the vital information they need that might otherwise be unavailable in an emergency crisis.
For example, if an elderly resident lived alone and was having a heart attack, no one would be available to tell the technicians what types of medicines the patient had been taking or if the patient had a history of heart disease.
The visits are made by the EMTs from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 1 to 3 p.m. unless there is a medical emergency response required elsewhere in town.
Once all the residents in a complex have been visited, the pair will move on to another housing unit until all the senior citizens have been visited. Then the visits will be repeated, according to Thurlow.
Thurlow also hopes to expand the program to Ripley, which is under the umbrella of the Dexter Ambulance Service.
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