The Washington State Department of Health of presented Lake Chelan Health EMS with an award plaque for their work related to reducing falls in the community.  Lake Chelan Health EMS is one of two hospitals in Washington to receive this  recognition award.

Falls in Washington state are the number one cause for injury.  Approximately 55% of 911 calls are related to falls. In the Lake Chelan Valley, the number one cause of injury is falls.  Approximately 200 calls ran by Lake Chelan Health EMS are related to injuries sustained from falls, which is why Ray Eickmeyer, Director of EMS and his team decided to drill down the reasons for the high volume of falls.

Some fall facts:

  • According to CDC, 1 in 4 elderly adults will fall this year
  • Among people aged 65 or up, falls account for 17% of 911 calls
  • Of these, 1 in 5 did not result in a transport
  • About 23% of patients not transported had a provider impression of “traumatic injury”
  • Up to 30% of falls cause moderate to severe injuries
  • Almost half of non-transported patients subsequently required health care within 2 weeks
  • 1 in 3 non-transported patients were seen in ED or hospitalized within 28 days of their initial fall
  • People who fall once are 2 to 3 times more likely to fall again within 1 year
  • A pilot study showed that linking older adults to community-based fall prevention program reduced fall rates by 55%

The EMS team focused on four areas to prevent falls from occurring and recurring.

  1. Reduce avoidable hospital-ED visits by 20% within 15 months
  2. Reduce hospital readmissions within 30 days of discharge by 20% within 15 months
  3. Increase access/use of primary care by reducing individuals without a PCP by 20% within 15 months
  4. Prevention/intervention-reduce high risk patients from having worsening issues by reducing chronic disease patient admission rates in the hospital by 20% within 15 months

The EMS team adopted five major tactics to reach their goals, which also involved partnering with other organizations in the Lake Chelan Valley to meet the needs of residents that could not be provided by Lake Chelan Health EMS.

  • Fall Risk Screening (CDC STEDI)
  • Home Safety Assessment (remove hazards) & install ramps/handrails
  • Medication Review
  • SAIL program (and transportation to these classes)
  • LifeAlert Button installations

Community Partnerships:

  • With Chelan Rotary to provide free Ramps and install handrails in home and bathrooms
  • With the Chelan Senior Center and Lake Chelan Health Rehabilitation department who provides free Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) classes at the center
  • A partnership was developed with Link Transit and Okanogan Public Health to provide free transport to SAIL classes
  • Partnering with Life Alert to allow EMS to help clients sign-up and install a Life Alert system
  • With primary care providers
  • With hospital staff

The results: There was

  • 68% reduction of avoidable ED visits
  • 95% decreased 30-day hospital re-admission rate
  • 15% increase of PCP follow-up
  • 78% Decrease in high frequency 911 callers
  • 86% improved customer experience
  • 25% decreased patient falls

Because of the high level of caring in the Lake Chelan Valley, Lake Chelan EMS has been able to make a major impact in reducing injuries sustained from preventable falls.  If you know of someone that could benefit from the Lake Chelan Health EMS Paramedicine program, please call 509-682-3300 or Call 509-682-8523 to inquire about SAIL classes.