In Colorado Springs from October to November of 2017, Florian Zahorka from the Department of Social Sciences at St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences was able to experience a research residence of a special kind. The idea for this trip arose in 2016 at the Ilse Arlt Symposium in a conversation with Fire Department Lieutenant Juliet Stone. As a guest lecturer, she was impressed with a poster that traced the (false) path taken by a patient and at the same time called for a more adequate and effective strategy for primary care.
The goal of the research residence was to become aware of the scope, competencies and limitations of the Community and Public Health Division and its programmes CRT and CARES. These are innovative projects designed to renavigate psychosocial problems in rescue services and to direct chronic patients into alternative treatment pathways.
Overcrowded emergency rooms, long waiting times, too much or too little treatment are not a phenomenon restricted to Austria. "For many people, a life-threatening situation is no longer the only reason for choosing an emergency call. An increasing number of minor cases are being brought to hospitals. These could benefit significantly from other treatment pathways for which they have an even stronger need", reported Zahorka.
Networking of health and social services as a premise
The establishment of more broadened primary care should again play a more dominant role in this context. "In addition, first-time networking at eye level and the integration of diverse health and social services will play a key role in the future. Only through close collaboration in Colorado Springs has it become possible for patients to be led into new treatment pathways outside of health services", said Zahorka. The proof lies in the success of the programme: the number of revolving-door patients has been reduced, and emergency personnel have become more available for life-threatening emergencies.
Pioneering spirit and joint assumption of responsibility
"In Colorado Springs, the courage to change and the willingness of decision makers to take collective responsibility is helping to bring about a positive change for everyone. In this way one can break through the attitude of risk avoidance. The third expansion of the project is already being put to the test", said Florian Zahorka.
Florian Zahorka is an Assistant in the Preclinical Care and Nursing course. As a social worker, he deals with the topics of health and social issues and together with Christoph Redelsteiner, heads the project "Community Response Team - Professional Social Work Outreach in the Community" of the Master Programme Social Work.