A clinic in Jackman has secured funding to expand urgent care services for patients in the rural Somerset County area.

Penobscot Community Health Care was one of four organizations to receive a grant from the Maine Health Access Foundation in March, according to a news release issued Monday afternoon. The medical group will be putting the money — a total of $75,000 — toward its Jackman Community Health Center location. It is also contributing a 20% match of the funds.

Currently, access to emergency care in the Jackman area is sparse. The nearest emergency rooms are in Greenville or Skowhegan, which are 55 and 75 miles away, respectively. Individuals with life-threatening illnesses or injuries must be stabilized in Jackman and then transported by ambulance to one of these locations.

“Our staffing model for 24/7 acute care is fragile,” said Lori Dwyer, president and CEO of Penobscot Community Health Care. “We rely heavily on the small staff at JCHC, per diem providers and the Jackman-Moose River Fire and Rescue Department. In talking with citizens from Jackman, Moose River and Dennistown, we recognized quickly that the need to develop a more sustainable rural healthcare delivery model.”

Roughly 862 people live in Jackman, 218 live in Moose River and 33 live in Dennistown, according to the most recent census in 2010. All three Somerset County municipalities are near the Canadian border.

Penobscot Community Health Care said it plans to use the grant funding to hire consultants to explore implementing the Community Care Paramedic Practitioner model in Jackman, which it says will help build sustainable primary and acute care services around the clock.

“The Community Care Paramedic Practitioner model proposes enhanced training for critical care paramedics, expanding their skills to include general urgent and sick care, disposition medicine (determining if a patient needs a high level of care) and a broad understanding of chronic disease,” according to the news release. “The vision, once implemented, is that these practitioners will share on-call duties for emergency response with the town’s EMS department, and when not required at emergencies will be utilized to meet other health needs in the community.”

The health center will also host two events in the coming year to get input from local residents. First to Last Health Services Solutions, Life Flight/Northern Light EMS, Jackman-Moose River Fire and Rescue Department, Eastern Maine Community College and Jackman’s Town Manager Victoria Forkus are serving as project partners and consultants, the news release states.

Dwyer said that the findings in Jackman can be shared with other providers in Maine.

Jackman Community Health Center, which opened in 2014, provides “accessible and affordable primary care services including family medicine, mental health, X-ray, care management, laboratory services and 24/7 acute care,” according to the news release.

Barbara Leonard, president and CEO of Maine Health Access Foundation said that the grants are designed to address deficiencies in Maine’s rural health care system.

“As focus on promoting equitable care for every person in Maine, we must consider where gaps are present,” she said. “With 61 percent of our state’s population residing in areas designated rural, it is imperative we provide funding to organizations working on new approaches to care and solutions to address the need for critical local services.”

The other grant recipients are Healthy Peninsula in Blue Hill and Healthy Community Coalition in Farmington, which each received $75,000, and Oxford County Mental Health Services in Rumford, which received $30,000, according to Jeb Murphy, a communications associate for Maine Health Access Foundation.

 

Meg Robbins — 861-9239
[email protected]
Twitter: @megrobbins

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