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Mesa community medicine program could lose federal funding

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PHOENIX — A community medicine program run by the Mesa Fire Department is in danger of losing its funding.

The Mesa Community Paramedicine program – which is staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants – handles many routine calls such as nose bleeds and back pain. The program helps keep certain types of cases out of Mesa emergency rooms.

“[The program was funded by] a $12.3 million grant from the federal government,” Mesa Fire Association spokesman Dale Crogan said. “[That grant] is going away Sept. 1.”

The program began has treated nearly 1,000 people since it began in August 2012.

“We do behavioral health; we have nurse practictioners and PAs (physicians assistants) that do, essentially, house calls,” Crogan said.

About 10 percent of their calls are for patients with behavioral and/or drug- and alcohol-related issues. Those patients can often spend hours or days in emergency rooms.

If budget cuts continue in the Mesa Fire Department, the program may not become self-sufficient. It’s not clear if Mesa could get another federal grant for it.

The original grant came from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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