Harris Regional Hospital is pleased to announce a new program known as ‘community paramedicine’ to serve local patients returning home from the hospital. In the program Harris Regional Hospital EMS paramedics conduct home visits with patients 24 to 48 hours after discharge from the hospital. The goal of each visit is to ensure the patient has made a successful transition from hospital to home and to check on any needs he or she may have.Hospital staff assisting with the patient’s discharge from the hospital will make a referral to community paramedicine and explain to the patient and family how the free program works. During the visit, paramedics will check vital signs and ensure the patient understands discharge instructions. North Carolina is one of five states implementing community paramedicine programs which are aimed at increasing access to care in rural communities.“Community paramedicine provides the patient with the opportunity to be checked on by a trained local medical responder in those first few hours and days home from the hospital. In making our visits we are improving our service to the community and helping ensure a smooth transition to home, reducing the likelihood of readmission,” said Matthew Burrell, EMS Operations Coordinator for Harris Regional Hospital.This year marks the 20-year anniversary for Harris Regional Hospital EMS. The hospital has operated the EMS service for Jackson County since January 1, 1996. Last year Harris Regional Hospital EMS answered 5,218 calls from all across the county representing a 15% increase over four years. In the community paramedicine program paramedics will operate in expanded roles beyond emergency response and transport to improve rural access to care.