A free health-care program is becoming increasingly popular in Graham County.
Thanks to funding from the Duke Endowment, Appalachian Regional Commission, Harris Regional Hospital system and others, the Community Para-Medicine program is only one doctor’s referral away.
“They don’t ever see a bill from me,” said Billy Hyde, a Graham County paramedic who is serving the community through the program.
Once a patient is referred, Hyde will visit their home and keep a check on things like medication, blood pressure and general health concerns. He works closely with the patient’s primary care physician and will check with patients on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
“I base that (the frequency of visits) off how severe their problems may be,” Hyde added.
Since its launch in January, 32 county residents have signed up for the service and eight are still using the program. Community Para-Medicine is available in roughly 30 counties statewide, including Clay, Jackson and Swain.
Hyde also visits COVID-19 patients if necessary, but the pandemic has proven to be a double-edged sword for Para-Medicine.
“COVID kind of hurt us,” he said. “We were on track to have about 15 patients a month, and we were getting quite a bit of referrals, before COVID-19 happened.”
Any doctor in Graham County can refer a patient to the program.
“If I can get a doctor on board, myself and the doctor can put together a game plan,” Hyde said. “We will know what to focus on.”
For details, call 479-7604.