The Community Assistance Resources Emergency Services (CARES) program has been officially part of the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Protection Territory (WWFT) for less than a year, but it has already become a busy program that continues to grow to help residents. of the city and township.

At WWFT’s board meeting on Tuesday, the CARES program was part of the discussion on several agenda items.

Fire Chief Mike Wilson, who is on the program with EMS Chief Chris Fancil, first spoke about CARES in his August response report. Under “Emergency Medical Response” a new line for CARES calls has been added. He said he and Fancil made six calls in August to work with people.

“September has been pretty busy, and we’ve already started October and we’re overwhelmed. So this program is going well, ”Wilson said.

Another part of the August report detailed the events in which WWFT was a part.

“We were pretty busy. You will see that we worked with around 387 different people throughout August, and I will note that one of them was a CARES event with the COVID-19 Shooting Clinic in Notre-Dame de Guadalupe ” Wilson said. “We have a good working relationship with the Kosciusko County Health Department. We run these shooting clinics whenever we have the opportunity.

WWFT Board Member and City Councilor Mike Klondaris asked Wilson to elaborate more on the CARES program for anyone watching the meeting online who might not be familiar with it.

“The CARES program is our initiative to help people with mental health needs (help). Those people who are regular customers when it comes to slips and falls, people who have just been released from the hospital and do not understand what needs to be done medically. These are the domestic issues where people are magnified. Chris and I are working diligently with law enforcement to defuse these situations, ”Wilson explained. “It’s new. There is training coming for the people in our department to support us in this partnership.

He said it was a partnership with several agencies, including the Bowen Center, the Warsaw Police Department, the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office and Lutheran EMS.

“We take care of the demerger. It’s very simple: what can we do today to get you through this business? Wilson said.

A CARES response is usually the result of a 911 call.

“And if there are those who are listening who have problems and confusion, they can call our office number during the day which is 574-372-9502 and ask to speak to the EMS Chief Fancil or the Chief of EMS. firefighters himself. That way we’ll put them on our list and see what we can do to visit them, ”Wilson said.

He reiterated that this is a very busy and growing program and that there is “more to come” with it.

The CARES program returned later in the meeting when Fancil requested permission to continue with certification and establishment of a Mobile Integrated Health Care (MIH) program.

Fancil said that CARES is really for people who are not served by the services currently available.

“So we helped people build wheelchair ramps. We’ve helped people do home security assessments, pick up loose rugs, things like that that make them fall, ”Fancil said. “Usually what happens is one 911 call is made or more than one 911 call is made. We have people we were dealing with today who called 911 – we have been there 25 times this year. They are good people who are simply not served by the services that already exist. “

He said they started the CARES program when Mayor Joe Thalemer asked them to do something to address mental health issues in the community, which have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But at the same time, we thought we could also do more with a different allocation of resources – trying to help people get those resources that they don’t know how to reach and grab,” Fancil said.

To go along with that, he said the state of Indiana has encouraged EMS to enter MIH, “which means they partner with their local facilities – hospitals, mental health providers, things like that – to do follow-up visits, to go out and get vaccinations, to go out and do wellness checks, to go out and do home safety visits, which really fits the CARES program.

One of the tasks given to them by the mayor, Fancil said, was to find out how to financially support the CARES program without depleting the money reserves of the fire department, the fire territory or the budget of the city.

“What the state has come up with is that if you can get certified as an integrated mobile health care provider, then you can bill insurance, Medicare, Medicaid for those services. Not necessarily billing people, but try to recoup some of that cost that you invest from Medicare, Medicaid, insurance companies, ”Fancil explained.

He said the state was only finding out and encouraging them to get MIH certification.

“In fact, we are in the process of arranging meetings with the two local hospitals to see if we can work in partnership with them as part of a follow-up,” said Fancil.

If a person is discharged from the hospital and is not really sure what medications they are supposed to take and when, she or Wilson could visit them and help them through this process, Fancil gave as an example.

He asked WWFT’s board of directors for permission to pursue this MIH certification, and then continue these partnerships with local hospitals to launch the program.

“We believe it benefits the whole community and both hospital departments at the same time,” said Fancil. “And if we can recoup some of the financial expenses that we have, that would just make it easier for us.”

Just Tuesday this week, he said he and Wilson had six or eight CARES responses and “I think we’re going to get busier.” So far we have developed excellent partnerships with the Bowen Center, with other facilities and services in the community. PD now asks us to do the scene and talk to some people. “

Fancil said this community “wants to help people” and there are a lot of people reaching out to help, but people “just don’t know how to make it happen. We think we can help facilitate that.

WWFT Board Member Brandon Schmitt asked if other departments have already done so. Fancil said there were plenty of them and spoke to the South Bend Fire Department EMS chief.

“They’ve had a program in place for a while. They first called it community paramedicine. They actually have a relationship with their hospitals, so when someone is discharged, they know about it, and then they go to follow up with that patient. And that’s what we hope it can work, ”Fancil said.

He added that there are grants to set up these programs, which they would continue.

“So far it’s been great, but I think we’re dipping our toes in the water and we really need to get in there and start helping people. What we have had so far has been remarkable, ”said Fancil.

Schmitt said it sounds like a great program.

WWFT’s board of directors unanimously approved for them to pursue certification and meet with local hospitals to pursue partnerships.