Helping Our Heroes
The Camden County Board of Freeholders and Cooper University Health Care are piloting a new program for first responders including Firefighters and EMS. The program will provide convenient preventative health services to this high-risk population. Camden County boasts 2,800 emergency responders who will have access to this service which will help identify and combat potentially life-threatening diseases.
The partnership has been established as a result of the alarming statistics that show cardiac disease is the number one killer among firefighters over the age of 35 and that 75 percent of all active emergency responders nationwide have been classified as hypertensive or prehypertensive. In fact, 44 percent of all deaths by firefighters, in the line of duty, are from sudden cardiac deaths.
The program is not intended to replace pre-employment physicals or annual physicals which determine basic fitness for duty. Such medical services are considered occupational health and are not within the scope of this initiative. Rather, this new service is a preventative health measure designed to provide a comprehensive health assessment and proactively identify health conditions which warrant further assessment. In Camden County, there are a number of first responders that currently do not have access to an annual physical and who could benefit from this program.
The program was established based upon the recommendations of the Camden County Division of Shared Services and their Fire Equipment Purchasing Advisory Committee (FEPAC). This board, administered by firefighters and emergency management service professionals, identified that, in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association Guidelines, first responders should have a comprehensive medical exam performed annually.
As the largest tertiary health care system in Camden County, Cooper University Health Care is poised to best serve this community of first responders and their healthcare needs. Cooper has more than 450 network physicians with the top cardiac, cancer, neurological and critical care specialists in the region. Working in collaboration with the County, Cooper’s community health registered nurses and physicians will be administrators of this program.
This is a voluntary program in which medical services will be provided at designated sites of first responders, including local fire houses, EMS stations, or a Cooper office. All HIPAA guidelines to health care privacy will be maintained.
Prior to each assessment, a health questionnaire will be given to each first responder. This questionnaire is confidential and must be filled out prior to the assessment. Upon completion of the health assessment, a complete medical report will be mailed to the first responder. The report will indicate whether the assessment is within limits or if additional services or testing is recommended. If the first responder would like to release this information to the organization leader, Cooper will facilitate with the release of the Medical Report Form.
Cooper University Health Care personnel adhere to all federal guidelines regarding patient confidentiality. At no time will Cooper health professionals provide an individual’s results to anyone but that specific patient, unless the patient has provided such authorization to Cooper. If there is a need for additional services or testing, the first responder has the option to select the healthcare facility of their choice.
On-site Assessments include:
- Medical History
- Physical assessment by a board-certified physician
- Height, weight and BMI
- Blood pressure, pulse, respiration, oxygen saturation
- Pulmonary – spirometry screening
- Resting EKG
The assessment includes the following tests which require fasting:
- CBC – complete blood count
- Complete Metabolic Panel
- Lipid Profile
- TSH & Uric Acid
The processing of these specimens will be dictated by the first responder’s insurance provider.
The program is open to all fire agencies and non-profit EMS organizations in Camden County.
All scheduling of the health assessments will be coordinated through a designated program coordinator at each agency. They will schedule a mutually agreed upon time for the health unit to be deployed to reach the most people on any given day. Those interested in the health assessment will be asked to submit their insurance information one week prior to the scheduled assessment.
Cooper University Health Care is required to apply its standard payment policies to this program. Cooper accepts many health plans and a list of major health plans are presented below. While most major plans cover the type of services provided in the program, some plans require that such assessments be performed by designated primary care providers. Finally, for those individuals or departments who wish to pay out pocket, the fee for the assessment is $375.
Cooper University Health Care accepts most health insurance plans, including,
but is not limited to:
- Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield
- Independence Blue Cross/Blue Shield
- Keystone Healthplan East
- Personal Choice
- United Healthcare
A complete list of participating health insurers can be found on Cooper’s website (cooperhealth.org). If the first responder has HMO insurance coverage which requires their designated Primary Care Physician to provide all medical assessments and physicals, Cooper services may not be covered by the first responder’s insurance and may result in out-of-pocket costs for the first responder.
For appointments and more information, please call 1-800-8-COOPER.