When he was growing up, Aaron Zimmiond planned on entering the military. But when an unfortunate car accident prohibited him from joining, he chose another route that would satisfy his motivation to protect and care for people. Aaron, Ambulance Supervisor for Lead-Deadwood, has been a paramedic for 22 years, and he’s leading the hospital’s community paramedicine program effort.
The program focuses on helping discharged patients get comfortable with their new routine at home and then regularly following up with them to ensure they are comfortable, safe and using medications correctly. The goal is to help the elderly and other fragile patients avoid visits to the Emergency Department (ED) or clinic by going to them and identifying issues before they require immediate care. Decreasing hospital readmissions and visits to the ED or clinic also helps patients save money.
“Our population includes a lot of older people who might find it hard to get to their appointments or even find people who can bring them,” Aaron said. “This program helps give those patients the care they deserve and need – care they might put by the way-side if they can’t get to the clinic otherwise.”
When a patient is ready to be discharged but needs continued care, their physician may give Aaron’s team specific instructions on how to help the patient (if they are willing) at home. A paramedic will first complete a home safety check and can work with Home Health if the patient needs any new equipment. Paramedics are trained through Home Health. “If they are having any problems we’ll help them set up an appointment or take them directly to the hospital or clinic.”
The program rollout began last year and involved three phases. It is now entering phase three, which involves rolling out the entire program. Phase two involved a trial run to iron out any hiccups in the process. The program is unique to Lead-Deadwood, but the hope is that it will serve as a model so that other hospitals can create similar programs.
Aaron began his supervisor role in September and is excited to move the program forward. He served as a fireman in Sturgis and Rapid City before moving to the position in Lead-Deadwood. He also worked for Life Flight. “I get a lot of enjoyment out of being able to help people and being there when they need me.”
Thank you to Aaron and the 17 paramedics on his team for your dedication to this important service. As Aaron said – “It’s about being active in the community and helping people who might not be able to help themselves.”