Readjusting to life at home after being in the hospital can be difficult. Oftentimes, patients have been prescribed new medicine that they have to remember to take. And it’s common for doctors to have urged them to make some lifestyle changes, too.

As many as 20 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted to the hospital within a month of leaving. Methodist Hospital’s goal is to reduce that stat in the west metro. That’s why it’s been teaming up with four local fire departments:

The purpose of this partnership is to help discharged patients make a safe transition from hospital to home. And since it launched in 2014, firefighters have visited more than 1,000 patients to do just that.

“We aren’t just focused on the well-being of our patients while they’re in the hospital,” says Methodist’s Senior Director of Care Management Gena Graves. “We want to improve health for our community. These partnerships are one of the ways we can make change.”

The fire departments agree. Sometimes a small effort can keep someone from ending up in an ambulance. It also saves time, resources and stress.

“The goal we all had when we started this was to impact the lives of patients in a more positive way. I believe we’ve done that,” says Steve Koering, the Chief of the St. Louis Park Fire Department.

When firefighters visit patients in their homes, they discuss new medications. They take the patient’s blood pressure. And they do a safety check around the house.

“We know that we are making a difference based on what patients say,” Koering says. “They see the benefit. That’s enough for us.”

The program was recently highlighted in the Minnesota Hospital Association's 2017 Community Benefit Report as a featured example of how hospitals enhance the communities they serve.