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UCFD #1 Hot Seat: Jessica Marcum

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It’s time for the tenth edition of the UCFD #1 Hot Seat. The Hot Seat provides a brief snapshot sharing the story of a highly committed and dedicated staff member.

It is with great pleasure UCFD #1 introduces to you; Jessica Marcum. Jessica is Umatilla County Fire District #1’s first and only Community Paramedic. Community Paramedic Programs first started on the East Coast and recently they have made their way to the Pacific Northwest. With programs like these in place, CP’s provide a bridge between the patient’s recent hospital visit and their transition back home or management of chronic illness through medication review, reinforcement of provider instructions and disease education. The Community Paramedic Program has been shown to be successful at reducing patient readmissions, decreasing high ER utilization, improve medication compliance and increasing patient satisfaction and connecting the patient with any needed community services. This ultimately results in a better experience and better health for our patients. On any given day Jessica is in her vehicle driving to patient’s homes with a Connexions Community Health Worker, working in her office at Good Shepherd Medical Center or helping out on medical calls with our shift crews.

First off, Marcum grew up in Starbuck, WA until she was 10 years old and then she moved to Paterson, WA where she finished high school. “When I was at Patterson, I went to Blue Mountain Community College to get a general degree from there. While doing the EMT program, I found out that there’s two different resident intern programs, one at Pendleton and one in Hermiston. Hermiston was closer to home so I chose the program through Umatilla County Fire District #1,” recalls Marcum. Jessica joined the RI Program back in September of 2007. Following her two years as an RI, she attended Columbia Basin College in Pasco, WA to receive her Paramedic License while working as a volunteer at UCFD #1, doing inter-facility transports for a few years.  To gain more experience in common non-emergency situations, Marcum got a job at a doctor’s office in Pendleton, OR for ten months where she learned things you don’t see when working as an EMT or a Paramedic on an ambulance. “That job gave me a pretty interesting perspective of what an emergency was, but I didn’t quite know what wasn’t an emergency and what the process was for all of that. So I got to learn some more of the common non-emergency things,” she said. Jessica thought it was time for a change and got a job as a Paramedic at the Army Depot for a year and a half where she did a lot of the occupational health screenings and pre/post screenings for entries. At this point, it was time for Jessica to focus on her own family as she became a stay-at-home mom for a few years before getting the job she has now; Community Paramedic for UCFD #1. The job was only supposed to be for 6 months and as of June 26, 2022, it will be five years. “When they first opened up the Community Paramedic Program, they didn’t know if this was going to stick around. For the first, probably two years or more, we were figuring out funding every six months and then as the program grew and became more well-known, doctors started to trust in the program,” stated Marcum.

Furthermore, parents can be a big inspiration for a kid’s dream when thinking about careers. For Jessica, that was her father. “I loved being outside and I worked with my dad all the time, he did center pivot irrigation stuff and used to run a couple of different farms so I would always be outside with him, learning how to run equipment. I knew I didn’t want a desk job, didn’t want to be inside all the time and he suggested I become an EMT, “ Jessica stated. “From there, I found the BMCC class, realized that I really, really enjoyed it,” she added. Ever since then, Jessica hasn’t looked back and is the main component of our Community Paramedic Program. This program wasn’t just something she stepped into, her research and hard work has helped bring it to where it’s at today. From attending Community Paramedic symposiums to speaking with Community Paramedic Program Directors in Alaska, she forged a program through the District that has changed the landscape of our relationship with the community. “I’m excited about the program because I think it really catches a lot of things that get missed and it really helps out with frequent 911 callers. These patients go to the hospital, then they don’t follow up with their provider and so being able to provide those steps in between is a huge help to that patient. I get to know this person, understand their medical history, see what their home environment is like and even get close with the family. Then when they go to the ER, they are prescribed different medicine or they’re diagnosed with different things and they can’t make their followups because they don’t have transportation or they don’t have a primary care. It usually will make a world of a difference to two decrease those frequent 911 calls,” declared Jessica.

When Jessica was asked of one of her fondest memory while working as the Community Paramedic she recalled a patient from several years ago that holds a special place in her heart. “Shortly after I started my job as Community Paramedic, I was assigned to an elderly couple. The wife had a lot of falls and so that’s why I was going there as we were frequently responding to help out with life assists. I worked with them for around maybe six months or so until their daughter ended up contacting me and I talked a lot, asking her what concerns she had, why she had those concerns and we spent hours on the phone. They ended up moving her into an assisted living facility and they were moving out of state to be closer to family, but before they moved, they invited me to the going away party, which I thought was pretty amazing,” recalled Jessica. “They will always hold a special place in my heart,” added Jessica.

She went on to talk about the sense of community here in Hermiston, and how everybody knows everybody. Not everywhere you call home, actually feels like home, but for Jessica it was a quick trip down to New Hope that sparked friendships and a sense of community. Between spending time outdoors with her family and bonding during her small group at New Hope, Jessica and her family have made great connections and even better friends here in town. “So I moved here in 2007, not really knowing anyone and I got involved with the church here at New Hope. Ever since then, the church has become my family. Getting to see how involved they are in the community and doing the ‘I LOVE MY CITY’ stuff is amazing. I’ve been from small towns my entire life so it makes it easier to find connections to help people,” acknowledged Jessica.

If you or a family member are interested in becoming a part of the Community Paramedic Program as a patient, Jessica needs a referral from your doctor. This program is not a replacement for any sort of services already in place such as the doctor, hospital, home health, any other types of services. The Community Paramedic works alongside those services and helps out with filling in the gaps within their healthcare.

It is our goal to bring the community closer with our District by telling the stories of the men and women who represent Umatilla County Fire District #1. It’s better to meet them, before you need them.