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Meeting Patient Needs in Crisis


To mark the 43rd-annual National EMS Week, Health Calling talked to Lisa Hogue, paramedic supervisor for Covenant Ambulance Service to learn what they do to serve Covenant Health patients.

How is Covenant Ambulance Service different from other area EMS services?
“Covenant’s Ambulance Service personnel can do anything other EMS services do – the only difference is they are permitted by the City of Lubbock as a transfer ambulance not the 911 EMS service. We spend more time with each of our patients vs. 911 EMS service. We may transport the same patient every day they are in the hospital. We get to know our patients on a first-name basis and they become like family to us,” said Hogue.

Why do they need to be exactly like other EMS services if they’re usually only going a few blocks?
“When a patient is in the hospital they must remain in medical care during transport for a procedure,” said Hogue, saying some can’t sit up, others may need to be on a ventilator and some are coming from critical care ICU.

Plus, they need professionals who can intercede if medical attention is needed during transport.

Covenant Ambulance Service personnel may need to intercede roughly two out of every ten “runs,” said Hogue.

“They may need pain control, could be nervous, have an airway blockage, get agitated, have blood pressure spikes or low blood sugar,” she said.

Regardless of whether medical attention is needed during transport, Hogue said her team’s goal is to “have them be in better condition when we drop them off than when we picked them up.”

Where do they go and why?
“The bulk of the 7,000 annual transports are between Covenant Medical Center and Covenant Specialty Hospital,” she said, talking about the facility handling long-term patients who may stay for more than 30 days. And that facility doesn’t have imaging, so Hogue’s team takes patients to Covenant Medical Center for imaging, endoscopy or to operating rooms.

Do they go outside Lubbock?
“Yes, however the majority of our out-of-town transports are with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit team to pick up newborns,” said Hogue. “We do take patients home to residences or facilities outside of the city of Lubbock when we are available.”

How many people work for the service and how many ambulances do they have?
Covenant owns four ambulances and staff three of them Monday through Friday, said Hogue. On weekends they staff one ambulance. The staff has eight full-time paramedics and five full-time EMT-basics with additional staff on call with more than 250 combined years of experience.

How did you, Lisa Hogue, end up in EMS?
“Since I was 8 years old I have had systemic lupus and had the need to request for EMS help several times,” she said. The experience made her want to help others – “to respond to someone else’s needs in a time of crisis. Be their shining light.”

She grew up in Arkport, N.Y., a small town near Buffalo, N.Y. and came to Texas to escape cold weather, landing in Sweetwater, where she got her associates degree in paramedicine.

She became a paramedic in 2000 and worked for AeroCare before joining Covenant Ambulance Service in 2010, becoming supervisor four years ago.

Not every story has a happy ending, but Hogue said even in those situations her team can take patients to life-extending care that gives families more time together even when that time is soon to end.

“I was working here as a medic on a truck and we were transporting a young lady in her thirties dying from cancer. We got called because she had a seizure and needed to go to surgery. When I arrived in the room she was in bad shape, unresponsive and going downhill fast. We loaded her up, put her on a cardiac monitor, protected her airway to get to surgery. She survived that surgery and we went on to transport her two more times. The last time we took her to palliative care where we were told this would be the last time we transported her. She passed peacefully a short time later surrounded by her family and friends,” said Hogue.

This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please seek medical advice from your physician for any related medical condition. If you are in need of a primary care doctor, click here to find one in the Covenant Health network.

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