PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In an effort to make their 911 system more effective, Providence has launched a mobile health unit to better serve residents in need of basic medical attention.
The goal of the initiative is to provide patients the appropriate care by transporting them to a primary care provider and diverting basic life support calls from the emergency room.
“Through this innovative approach, we will be able to deliver better services to the people of Providence, better services for the people serviced by this program,” Mayor Jorge Elorza said. “With the resources this program will help relieve, we will have more resources for people in other circumstances.”
Chief of Emergency Medical Services Zachariah Kenyon tells Eyewitness News the Providence Fire Department responds to 33,000 medical calls per year, 14,000 of which are transported and billed as basic life support.
“We currently operate in a 911 system that is broken and it’s not unique to Rhode Island—it’s happening across the country,” Kenyon explained. “Emergency rooms are overcrowded, firefighters and EMS are overworked, and people are getting the proper care.”
Since the program launched in late August, Kenyon said the mobile health unit has treated 100 patients, 40% of which were brought to a health clinic or treated at home.