West Metro debuts new way to bring urgent care with big financial savings

LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- West Metro Fire Rescue has a new tool to help people receive care, without a needless trip to the emergency room.  It’s a specially equipped ambulance.

The Advanced Resource Medic, or ARM car, is designed like a mobile urgent care clinic that goes directly to you.  Dispatch Health and West Metro Fire Rescue partnered for the project.

Many 911 calls do not actually require emergency services.  The goal is to treat people where they are, and cut back on unnecessary trips to the ER.

West Metro expects the mobile care unit will keep 2,000 to 3,000 patients out of the ER each year.

The ARM car has extra kits that other ambulances do not.  Those allow staff to do things like blood draws, test for mono or strep, give a nebulizer treatment, perform an EKG, and give stitches.

Here’s how it works.  After a call to 911, crews will determine if the patient needs to go to the ER, or if the ARM car would be appropriate.

“If we can contain cost, and keep people out of the emergency department that don`t necessarily need to be there, we can contain costs significantly for the insurance companies, the health system, and the patient,” said Caren Misky, a nurse practitioner with Dispatch Health.

Crews say the average cost of an ambulance ride in the metro is $1,000 - $1,500.  A very basic emergency room visit averages $2,000.  A visit from the ARM car will cost $275 if you self-pay, and they do take insurance.

The crew believes they are part of a growing trend.  “It’s the way of the future,” said Kimel Brent, an advanced practice paramedic with West Metro .

Dispatch Health has also partnered with South Metro Fire Rescue for an ARM Car.  They expect more locations will follow.

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