(SUBMITTED)

Sgt. Courtney Setzer helps Paul Shifflett change the bandage on his foot. Shifflett said he would have died if not for the help of the Community Care Paramedic Program.

Before the Community Care Paramedic Program came into his life, Bobby Bell said he was his own worst enemy, which sent him to the emergency room frequently.

                Bell, 73, who lives off Clear Creek Road, has high blood pressure and a few heart problems.

                “I tried to be my own doctor,” he said. “When I got a symptom, I would look it up and try to diagnose myself. I would call 911 to come and check on me, and I went to the emergency room every 2-3 months. … I’ve been on the program a little over a year, and I’ve only been to the emergency room once.”

                Bell said, after receiving help from Lt. Chad Robinson and Sgt. Courtney Setzer, he’s learned how to regulate his blood pressure and live a healthier life.

                “I feel better at 73 than I ever have in my life,” Bell stated. “I owe that to the consideration and professionalism that the EMS and this program have shown me. They have gone overboard to respond to my needs.”

                And Bell, along with the other patients, has their numbers. They call or text whenever they need something, and, if the Community Care paramedics can’t help at that moment, they find someone who can.          

Bell is doing so well now that he helps other patients in the program, often giving them rides to appointments.

                Setzer, who is one of two community care paramedics, along with Robinson, said their 58 current patients are split up into groups, according to where they live, and she and Robinson try to see eight to 10 a day.

                “There are a few that see primarily just me or Chad, but 90 percent of them see both of us at different times,” Setzer stated.

                Paul Shifflett, 56, who lives on Ray Roland Drive, is diabetic and had a sore on his foot that nearly caused it to have to be amputated. When he became a patient of the program, he was on an experimental drug that was causing breathing problems, which forced him to call EMS for help quite frequently.

                “We got him off of that medicine, and set up with a doctor, and he’s doing so much better now,” said Setzer. “We make sure he goes to dialysis regularly and is taking his medications. He’s had a skin graft on his foot, and it’s going to be OK.”

                The sergeant added that it was something as small as a calendar that saved Shifflett. He was overwhelmed by dialysis visits, doctor’s appointments and medication. Now, he has everything written out day by day.

                “I would be dead if it wasn’t for them (the Community Care Paramedic Program),” he stated. “I couldn’t get around. I couldn’t help myself. I stayed sick. … Now I can walk on my own and fix my own food and clean the house.”

                Judy Lindsay, 82, of Lena Street, was referred to the Community Care Paramedic Program through the McDowell County Department of Social Services. She fell and broke her hip, was hospitalized and was later discharged with no home health care.

                The Community Care paramedics pick up and deliver her medications – and often her mail -- got her set up on Medicaid, found her a walker and are just there when she needs them.

                “They have helped me out a lot,” Lindsay stated. “Courtney has been good to me. She checks my blood pressure and my blood sugar. She goes to the pharmacy and gets my medicine for me. She got me free kerosene from the Y.”

                Annie Vess, 88, of Marion Street, usually gets visits from Robinson, who she now considers a dear friend. She’s been on the program since its initiation.

                “My blood pressure went up, and they called and got me a doctor’s appointment ASAP, instead of me going to the emergency room,” said Vess. “I enjoy them all. Chad comes over and sits and talks to me. They’ve all been so nice to me.”