West Fargo effort to help seniors avoid falls is a first for North Dakota
The goal of the newly unveiled West Fargo Fire Community Health Alliance is to "connect residents with the right services at the right time," an official said.
WEST FARGO — In hopes of curbing the growing number of emergency medical calls, the West Fargo Fire Department has launched a new program targeting seniors who often call the department after falling, requesting assistance.
The newly unveiled West Fargo Fire Community Health Alliance, modeled after a program in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, works to connect those often in need with help right away and is the first such program in North Dakota.
West Fargo Fire Chief Dan Fuller said back in August that the alliance would be aimed at individuals such as seniors who fall in their homes and need help. The department would respond to pick them up, Fuller said, but they’d also ensure the resident has the necessary resources to prevent future calls.
St. Louis Park Fire Chief Steve Koering, in an informational meeting held this week regarding the new program, said the goal of the Community Health Alliance is to "connect residents with the right services at the right time."
Amy Lucht, a social worker who's the St. Louis Park Fire Department's care coordinator, highlighted why the fire department is the ideal agency to take the lead on such a program.
Oftentimes fire departments are the first on scene after a 911 call for a fall and, as the care coordinator, Lucht connects seniors with the necessary services and also gathers information to help in times of crisis, such as who their emergency contacts are, if they have a power of attorney or a primary care doctor.
The care coordinator can also show residents which health systems are available if they do not have a primary care plan. Options can also be given to help residents stay in their homes longer while reducing the number of calls.
In West Fargo, Fire Marshal Dell Sprecher has already started the program, working as the city's care coordinator and meeting with residents who have fallen to gather their information and provide resources.
Unite North Dakota, a statewide group that can help with food insecurity, housing associations, financial assistance programs and government agencies among other things, has helped Sprecher connect with those in need.
Sprecher said West Fargo launched the program about a month ago and have about 100 cases so far.
The Moorhead and Fargo fire departments have shown interest in the program, according to Lucht, but for now, West Fargo will lead by example.
"This community is going to be the model that all of the communities are going to learn from," she said.