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Snohomish County Nurse Navigation Program, a new Emergency Care Solution

EVERETTSnohomish County 911 and the Snohomish County Fire Chiefs Association have partnered to launch the Snohomish County Nurse Navigation Program, both organizations announced Tuesday. This innovative healthcare solution directs people to the most efficient and appropriate level of care when calling 911, helping preserve the county’s emergency response system.

Nurse Navigation works by routing some 911 callers with non-emergent injuries or illnesses to a licensed nurse for assessment. A Snohomish County 911 dispatcher would first triage the patient’s condition using industry-standard protocols. Eligible patients may then be routed to a nurse navigator who is licensed to provide care in Washington state. The nurse navigator would work with the patient to determine the most appropriate medical care, which could include a virtual visit with a board-certified physician, self-care, or transport to a local healthcare provider, including clinics and urgent care centers. Ambulances will continue to be dispatched to 911 callers with urgent, life-threatening or potentially life-threatening medical emergencies.

Nurse Navigation Program
SOURCE: South County Fire

“If you call 911 for a medical issue, typically an ambulance transports you to a hospital emergency room, but the emergency room may not be the right place to receive the right care for your situation,” said Everett Fire Chief Dave DeMarco, speaking on behalf of the Snohomish County Fire Chiefs Association. “If we have more appropriate options for patients with less acute needs, first responders are more likely to be available for our community’s most serious, life-threatening emergencies like heart attacks, strokes or serious car crashes.”

Calls to Snohomish County 911 for fire and emergency medical services (EMS) increased 27% from 2019 to 2023. Of the 111,476 fire and EMS calls last year, up to 17,000 could be considered lower acuity, meaning the patient did not require emergency room treatment. Many of these calls may have been eligible for the Nurse Navigation program.

Nurse Navigation Program
How the Snohomish County Nurse Navigation Program works. SOURCE: Snohomish County Launches Nurse Navigation.

“The Nurse Navigation program is a layer that helps protect our entire emergency healthcare system, from frontline responders to emergency room doctors and staff,” said Terry Peterson, Deputy Director of Snohomish County 911. “By getting patients to the right care, at the right time and in the right place, we can better meet their needs while also ensuring resources are available for the most critical patients who call 911.”

North Sound Accountable Community of Health will fund the initial implementation and first year of Nurse Navigation. Snohomish County joins Seattle and Vancouver, Washington in integrating the program into 911 systems. Find more information at www.sno911.org/nursenavigation.

Nurse Navigation is a product of Global Medical Response (GMR), a private provider of emergency medical and patient relocation services and the parent company of American Medical Response (AMR).

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