CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- In July of 2022, UVA Health started a program to help patients right from their own homes.

A year and a half later, the emergency department is seeing a drop because of this program, called Community Paramedicine.

It arose in response to a nationwide problem: lack of space in the emergency room, doctors booked up for months, and patients feeling stuck. 

While the program is still young, it’s already made a big difference for the 50 patients who have completed it.

“We’ve reduced out of those 50 patients, they had an average of nine ER visits in the six months prior to our involvement to down to about to down to about two or three ER visits in the six months after our completion of follow-up visits with them,” said Community Paramedic Patrick Watson.

Watson and Taylor Tereskerz were chosen to spearhead this program, which they hope is illuminating.

“Just a better understanding of how to take care of themselves so they don’t have to call 911 and to understand what 911 and the emergency room are for, what urgent care is for, what the ER is for what your primary care doctor is for,” said Tereskerz.

This is impacting more than just residents close to the main hospital. It’s helping rural families too.

“So places like Louisa, even into Orange and Madison, Augusta County that we’ve gone to connect patients that may need better access or better connection with primary care,” says Watson.

After a patient visits UVA Health, the community paramedics are given a list. From there, they see who they might be able to help. The unique part of this is there’s no particular standard a patient has to meet. Watson gives an example of this.

“Disease education, treatment education as well as provider connection with local care providers, a lot of patients still don’t have a primary care provider,” he said.

To help patients understand what their illness is, and the best course of action to recovery.

With the success of the program, they hope to expand soon.

“Our idea of what this would look like would have two or three teams if not even more potentially even 24 hours to where if there’s a night or weekend issue that we may be able to respond out to a patient,” said Watson.