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Tucson Collaborative Community Care (TC3): Community Well-being and Enhanced Community Service - by Tyler Trotter

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    To help combat repetitive calls into the 911 system of Tucson, AZ a unique program was developed and is known as the Tucson Collaborative Community Care (TC3) program. The TC3 program has many partnerships and expansion in the near future is almost a certainty. Clients that are eligible for the program will be monitored by a group of professionals for a minimum period of three months. During this monitoring period clients are offered services that are not available to the general public. Their mission is to provide quality community-based care and life-changing impacts on individual needs.

    Initiated by the Tucson Fire Department (TFD), the program began in 2016 with only two fire personnel visiting the homes of individuals that frequently called into 911 (City of Tucson). After partnering with Tucson Medical Center (TMC) in 2018 they have expanded to “one commissioned paramedic, four civilian EMT’s, two behavioral health specialists, one manager with TFD, and one manager with TMC” (Knowlton). Federal grants were also approved which allows TC3 to partner with businesses such as PetSmart and give care to the pets of clients. Many clients are elderly and do not have any family or friends to rely on, so their pets are treated as their family.

    In addition to, TC3 collaborates with other departments such as The Tucson Police Department to help reduce the number of homeless in Tucson. During the pandemic, these agencies distributed COVID19 supply kits that helped those in need when they had nowhere else to go. Those efforts continue long after the panic of the pandemic but “It’s a complex issue. Not an easy quick fix, solve. It requires several different resources collaborating together” (Vernachio). Both departments also continue to receive grants that allow them to work together and find the solution to the homelessness problem.

    Currently, the only way to become a client of the TC3 program is to get a referral by someone employed with the Tucson Fire Department. When an employee recognizes the need, a team is sent to do an evaluation of the patient and determine if extra care is needed and if they will benefit from becoming a client. Once care is established “the patient will be monitored for a minimum period of three months, although most patients remain in the program for a longer period” (Knowlton). The patient will receive services during their participation of the program such as rides to and from doctors’ appointments, pick up of needed prescriptions, substance and behavioral counselling, and any other care that will help stabilize the patient’s quality of life. This comprehensive approach helps to alleviate the patient’s reliance on the 911 system.

    At the start of the program anyone that utilized 911 would be placed into a low, medium, and high category based solely on the number of times they called into 911. Those placed in the “high” category are the ones that would get referrals into the program. While it is not known exactly how many calls were prevented into the 911 system because of the TC3 program, statistics do show a dramatic decrease when compared to years before the program existed. “In fiscal year 2019, the Tucson Fire Department responded to just under 76,000 calls for EMS, a significant drop from our 2017 numbers of 83,000. For several years prior TFD had seen an average 6% increase in EMS call-load per year, a climb that was quickly becoming unsustainable” (McDonough). As a result, the program continues to receive funding and grow along with the needs of the citizens of Tucson.

    The Tucson Collaborative Community Care program is one of the best examples of community-based care. They recognized a problem within the community and took action by connecting individuals to the resources they need and offer a way to improve their health and well-being. Hopefully, with expansion of the program, other communities facing similar problems will view TC3 as a shining example and implement a similar program within their own community.

    Works Cited

    Knowlton, Ginger. Re: Discussion of the TC 3 program. Received by Tyler Trotter. E-mail interview. 17 November 2023.

    McDonough, Sharon. Tucson Fire’s Three-Tiered Approach to Manage Increasing Call Volumes. Fire Rescue 1. 11 March 2020.

    Tucson Collaborative Community Care (TC-3). City of Tucson. N.d. /Departments/Fire/Tucson-Collaborative-Community-Care-TC-3

    Vernachio, Veronika. Multiple Tucson Agencies Partner to Help Provide Resources to Homeless. KGUN9 Tucson. 06 August 2020. coronavirus/multiple-tucson-agencies-partner-to-help-provide-resources-to-homeless

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