Minnesota First State in U.S. to Pass Landmark Legislation to Train Community Paramedics to Significantly Expand Access to Health Care and Reduce Costs for Health Care Providers and Taxpayers

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. – July 9, 2012 – Thirteen students who recently graduated from the first-ever Community Paramedic training program in the U.S. will receive their certification from the Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board at 2 p.m. July 19 at Hennepin Technical College (HTC) in Eden Prairie. The 13 graduates -- all experienced paramedics -- will help to fill the ever-widening gaps in the health care delivery system by expanding access to health care for underserved groups in Minnesota. They will also help to significantly reduce costs for health care providers and taxpayers in the state.

Employment of EMT’s and paramedics is expected to grow by 33 percent from 2010 to 2020; much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The first Community Paramedic training program, which was developed in partnership with the Minnesota Ambulance Association, began in May 2011 at HTC’s Eden Prairie campus. The program includes 112 hours of classroom instruction (64 hours of face-to-face or via interactive TV and 48 hours of online) and 196 hours of clinical training, which can be arranged in the eight EMS regions in the state. This flexible format allows qualified students from throughout Minnesota to participate in the program.

“Hennepin Technical College is at the leading edge of training experienced paramedics to address minor and chronic health problems in the home, rather than automatically driving patients to a hospital emergency room,” said HTC President Cecilia Cervantes, Ph.D. “This innovative new program is a real ‘win-win’ for all parties involved because it addresses the increased financial pressure in the health care system, the shortage and uneven distribution of health care professionals in rural areas, an aging society, increased health care demands and the need to provide another career track for experienced paramedics.”

On April 6, 2011, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law the Community Paramedics Bill, creating a new certification for emergency medical technicians. With the help of the Minnesota Ambulance Association, state Rep. Tara Mack, and state Sen. Julie Rosen, Minnesota became the first state in the U.S. to pass this landmark legislation. The bill allows community paramedics to help provide health services where access to physicians, clinics or hospitals is difficult, particularly in rural Minnesota, where there is a large population of elderly citizens and a critical shortage of health care professionals.

“The new certification is another demonstration of the leadership shown in Minnesota as we move forward to reform health care,” said O.J. Doyle, EMS consultant and lobbyist for the Minnesota Ambulance Association, who worked with Buck McAlpin, director of government affairs for North Memorial Medical Center in Minneapolis to get the bill passed. “In addition, it provides a creative way to fill gaps in the health care delivery system and will significantly reduce costs for health care providers and taxpayers. Also, it will provide a solution for preventing unnecessary hospitalization and ambulance transportation (which can average $4,000 a visit) and doesn’t compete with existing health care services.”

To expand and enhance the program, HTC has received a $241,538 Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) grant to train 24 community paramedics a year over the next three years in collaboration with HealthEast Care System, Allina Health System and North Memorial Health Care. The formal MJSP grant signing is slated for 2 p.m. on July 31 at the HTC Eden Prairie campus.

“I applaud Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) and HTC for being at the forefront of emergency medical services,” said Dr. Michael Wilcox, medical director for MnSCU and the new HTC training program. “They’ve been very proactive in listening to the challenges and needs of health care providers and creative in developing an innovative program that will prepare a new type of professional who will complement the health care team,” said Wilcox, who oversees the HTC training.

“This new career path for paramedics is really exploding,” said CTS Coordinator for Emergency Medical Services at HTC Kai Hjermstad, who will also receive his certification on July 19. “Community paramedics will take on various roles including outreach, wellness, health screening assessments, health instruction, dispensing of immunizations, disease management, recognition of mental health issues, wound care, safety programs, and functioning as an extension of physicians in rural clinics and hospitals.”

In addition to meeting the need for acute medical care, community paramedics will work with public health agencies to identify needs in underserved communities and develop methods to better treat them. Studies have shown that utilizing community paramedics can result in economic savings because they help citizens and communities overcome barriers that prevent them from accessing health care services. All of the roles and activities of community paramedics are overseen by a medical director.

Several new Community Paramedic classes will begin this fall at the HTC Eden Prairie campus. For more information about the program, contact Kai Hjermstad at 952-995-1313 or or visit the Community Paramedic information page.

Media Contact
Barbara Mednick, 651-486-7007

About Hennepin Technical College
Hennepin Technical College (HTC) is Minnesota’s largest technical college, serving more than 10,000 students at campuses in Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie. HTC offers more than 45 programs of study, leading to certificates, diplomas, an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) or an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree. The college offers many evening, weekend, and online courses. To learn more, explore our website or call (952) 995-1300. HTC is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

About the Minnesota Ambulance Association
The Minnesota Ambulance Association is a member-driven, advocacy organization whose mission is to advance EMS leadership, policy and practice in Minnesota.

Last updated by jlaabs : 2015-06-02 13:54:19