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Scottsdale Fire Department, Hospital Partnership Aims To Reduce Cost of Emergency Health Care

Steve Richter
(Photo by Mariana Dale -KJZZ)
Steve Richter is a Scottsdale paramedic in the Mobile Integrated Health Progam.

Scottsdale’s Fire Department teamed up with HonorHealth two years ago to start a mobile health care unit.

The Scottsdale City Council will consider renewing the program for an additional six months on Tuesday. 

“We consider this a proactive response in that we would much rather get our team out there to evaluate and prevent further incidents,” Scottsdale Captain Paramedic Steve Richter said.

RELATED: Home Visit Program Reduces Hospital Readmission In Buckeye

Richter works with an HonorHealth nurse practitioner as part of the Mobile Integrated Healthcare Practice Program.

In a typical day, Richter and his HonorHealth colleague may check in on a person with a chronic illness like diabetes or evaluate a home for fall risks.

Common participants include those with chronic illnesses like congestive heart failure or pneumonia.

“Once they’ve gotten in that ambulance and gone to the ER doors, it becomes a larger crisis and then the cost of care for that patient becomes a lot higher as well,” Richter said, citing a doctor’s visit that may cost several hundred dollars versus an emergency room visit that could cost thousands of dollars.

The program is currently available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Richter said he'd like to see it expand to 24 hours a day.

A memo to Scottsdale's City Council reports 575 people have enrolled since the program began in 2015.

Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.