Grant awarded to expand community paramedic program
By Rob Peck
Dogwood Health Trust awarded Clay County $134,000 for each of the next two years for an additional Community Paramedic.
The Community Paramedic Program was created in Clay County through initial funding from the Nantahala Health Foundation ($95K) in 2019. The Program’s first Paramedic was Jeff Ledford, Paramedic/RN, who brought to the position over 30 years of health care experience. Grant funding from the North Carolina Health Care Foundation ($147,092.60) allowed for the outfitting of the program, suppling necessary equipment and training.
In 2021, the Health Department brought the program under its auspices, adding greater oversight to the program by teaming the Community Paramedic with the Health Department’s Nurse Practitioner. This also enabled expanded telehealth/clinical services. This partnership received funding from a three-year Community Health Grant ($150K per year for 3 years) and saw the addition of Community Paramedic Ben English.
During this time, Clay County opened the state’s first of its kind monoclonal antibody clinic, blazing new trails for the program, and increasing access to health care for Clay County residents and the surrounding communities of Western NC and North GA.
Recognizing the good work of the program, the Dogwood Health Trust awarded the CPP $181,000 to purchase a mobile unit to be used for community health events and for natural disaster and homeland security initiatives throughout the county and the state.
Always thinking ahead to the future, Clay County has submitted a grant to the Nantahala Health Foundation to grow future EMTs and Paramedics. The application for $50,000 is in the review stage and will, if funded, provide for an EMT mentor/trainer. This will be a partnership with Clay County Schools (and schools throughout the far west), Tri-County Community College and the CPP to recruit students to become EMTs. The mentor/trainer will follow students throughout their studies, ensuring they successfully complete training and find placement locally, where the need is greatest.
Clay County received funding in the amount of $100,000 from a Dogwood Health Trust Opioid Planning Grant to provide selected students with full tuition and an internship stipend to ensure the program gets the highest quality candidates and keeps them.