Violet Township paramedics are forgoing their off time to aid the staff of the Mount Carmel hospitals in the battle against COVID-19.
“The pandemic has affected everyone and hospitals have been overrun with patients in some instances,” Fire Chief Mike Little said. “Also, hospitals are experiencing employee illness just like all other businesses. Hospital staff has worked innumerable hours of overtime to cover areas of need. There are only so many employees to work and many areas either work shorthanded or have no staff to cover. Due to some recent changes in state law, Mount Carmel Health System approached us to see if we could help.”
The arrival of the first vaccines in December has inspired hope and optimism, but the pandemic continues to take a toll on healthcare workers.
“We see the vaccines as ‘the beginning of the end’ while understanding that our staff still needs to provide the best level of care for our patients now,” said Jamie Wilson, EMS manager at Mount Carmel. “We are continually looking to provide relief to our healthcare workers now.”
About a dozen Violet Township firefighters have agreed to help. Mount Carmel will compensate the township for the labor.
“We are not making any profit,” Little said. “We are charging the overtime rate plus the cost of pension payments and Medicare payments.”
Although the hospital and the township have a long history of working together, Mount Carmel has not subcontracted with the fire department before to this degree.
“We have worked with our paramedic partners on a number of community programs, but this is the first time we’ve worked side by side within the health system,” Wilson said. “They’re incredibly capable and a welcome addition.”
The arrangement was made possible by Ohio House Bill 151, which enabled health care to expand upon their existing relationships with fire departments to better combat the pandemic.
“We have a long-standing collaborative relationship with our emergency responders. We knew if we asked them for help, they would be there,” Wilson said. “It is also important to recognize that this came to be because of the partnership between state lawmakers, the DeWine administration and Ohio hospitals. Our elected officials continue to remain in close contact with us, working to understand the needs of our frontline workers. This legislation is an example that those in the statehouse are listening to those needs and providing actionable support during this pandemic.”
Hospital employees welcome the outside help.
“The overwhelming response has been excitement and gratitude,” Wilson said. “These paramedics are going to alleviate some of the burden on our frontline healthcare workers. The non-hospital paramedics will be fulfilling an open need in our hospitals, and will be able to provide a level of relief to our clinical staff.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Mount Carmel’s physicians have stated that COVID-19 spreads much more easily than the flu and can cause more serious illnesses in some people, including patients who are otherwise healthy.
“Everyone needs to remain vigilant and mitigate the spread of the virus through social distancing, masking and hand washing,” Wilson said. “We also need to stay up-to-date with new guidelines and recommendations from the CDC and Ohio Department of Health as they emerge.”
As of Sunday January 24, there were more than 750,000 confirmed cases of COVID in Ohio with more than 6,500 intensive care admissions and nearly 10,000 confirmed deaths. The Ohio Department of Health updates these statistics daily at their website.
For those experiencing COVID symptoms, a list of Pickerington area testing locations, along with their hours and whether or not they require a physician’s referral, can be found here.
The Fairfield County Health Department provides an interactive map where visitors can view statistics by ZIP code. On January 27, the number of total cases for ZIP code 43147 was 3,517 – up 18 cases from the day before. The total cases for the Violet Township portion of ZIP code 43068 was 667 – up seven cases from the day before.
“We have started to distribute COVID-19 vaccine to our most vulnerable patients,” Wilson said. “And, similar to the annual flu vaccine, we encourage you to get the vaccine when it becomes available to you.”
To register for the vaccine, Fairfield County residents need to complete a form.