Frequent Caller - Press Kit
Santa Fe New Mexican - Santa Fe's Mobile Health Office Catches Film Crew's Attention - Link
EMS1 - NM mobile health unit catches film crew’s attention (reprint) - Link
EMS World - N.M. Mobile Health Unit to Be Featured in Documentary - Link
KANW 89.1 Albuquerque - New Mexico Close Up - Link
Frequent Caller is a feature length documentary in the making. It's a story that paramedics in every city in the country can relate to, because many of them live it every day. Frequent callers, frequent flyers, high-utilizers, system abusers—these are the names paramedics use to describe the roster of people who call on emergency services for their basic medical needs, and much more.. Faith, a Santa Fe firefighter and paramedic, calls them her clients and friends. Regardless of what you call them, they are real people with incredible stories of humility, depression, adventure, addiction, and tragedy. A stroke of bad luck, and you could become a frequent caller.
Technically, a frequent caller is someone who is transported often to the hospital in an ambulance. In Santa Fe you’re considered a frequent caller if you’re taken to the hospital by ambulance more than four times in a year. Some people are transported four times a week. Anthony Jojala was one of them. Tony used to be homeless, and he has suffered from alcohol addiction for nearly ten years. He had a predilection for passing out in front of McDonalds. Eventually, a concerned passerby would call 911. The medics would show up and have no other option but to take him to the hospital, where he would sleep it off and repeat the process, often the same day. Tony’s current recovery is in large part thanks to Faith and the rest of the small team of SFFD paramedics that make up the Mobile Integrated Health Office (MIHO).
What MIHO practices is a relatively new and progressive form of care called mobile integrated healthcare or community paramedicine. Faith acts as a careworker to ten clients a quarter. It's a tough job and she often starts it by playing detective. How do you find people that are often without homes, cell phones, or jobs? Some clients, including Tony, work with Faith for three months at a time.
For the MIHO staff, the goal is simple: help frequent callers find the support and stability they need (addiction treatment, a ride to the doctor, counselling, a valid license, an apartment, a long term connection to social services and caseworkers). For the fire department this means fewer unnecessary calls and faster response times for true emergencies. For the city, taxpayers, hospitals, and healthcare insurers, this means decreased costs. For Faith, who was previously an ambulance paramedic, this means she now has a chance to truly help the people she often just transported to the hospital. For Tony and many other MIHO clients, the program provides real people that care for them. It also means a second chance at life.
We are still filming right now as Faith takes on new clients and helps Tony apply for long-term housing. We will film with Faith, Tony, MIHO, and other clients for the next nine months. We still need to film with clients before they enter the program in order to understand how people become frequent callers. We also need to capture their backstories and follow up with clients after they leave the program. We hope to have a finished project by the fall of 2019. Upon completion, we will submit Frequent Caller to film festivals and then release the film to the world! Our goal is to create a riveting yet informative 50-90-minute documentary intended to inspire the public, educate healthcare professionals, and create empathy for people living with mental illness and homelessness.
From Faith Applewhite - SFFD MIHO Paramedic
I was drawn to begin volunteering and riding along at the fire department almost 20 years ago, getting my EMT license when I was 16 and having worked on an ambulance or fire engine in some capacity since then. I was immediately enamored with the profession -- getting to interact with people in their worst moments and work to help them. But over the years, it became increasingly clear that even though we get so many opportunities to be with people in their times of need, the tools we have (a fire engine, ambulance, advanced cardiac and trauma resuscitation equipment, and the ability to take people to the emergency room quickly) so often don’t match our patients’ needs.
Unfortunately, most parts of healthcare system in the US aren’t well situated to help the people who need it the most, but fire departments are uniquely positioned to fill this gap. We are strategically placed throughout communities across the country with mobile infrastructure needed to help get patients to the right systems, and to get the systems out to the patients. In MIHO, we have the opportunity to navigate our most vulnerable community members through the complex organizations designed, but sometimes not otherwise able, to help them. It’s been unbelievably educational and inspiring to work with these individuals as we team up with them to accomplish goals. As the adage goes, of course, I’ve learned more from them than they ever will from me, and a few of them have even been willing to tell their stories on camera. Greg is helping us honor their honesty by sharing their voices, thanks for watching!
From the Director, Greg Cairns - About the Film
MIHO’s story needs to be shared. It is a compelling and inspiring example of what it means to care for those around you, especially when they are strangers. What separates this story from other healthcare documentaries is the combination of a serious national crisis paired with the insightful and refreshing direct solutions of a few caring paramedics. MIHO is potentially a model for thousands of fire departments. The work of Faith and her coworkers is focused, progressive, and tangible. As SFFD’s Fire Chief Erik Litzenberg said “I think we are world class and I don't mind that being shared.” We also have rare access to patients and paramedics. For anyone familiar with film and HIPPAA laws, this is not an easy thing to establish.
"Traditional EMS owes it's national evolution to the TV show Emergency, with Johnny and Roy. They inspired many to become paramedics. I suspect the quality of this production, including its focus on Faith and her compassion for her patients, could be equally inspirational to a whole new generation of MIH-CPs. I can only hope the distribution plans for the film take it far and wide."
-Dan Swayze DrPH, MBA, MEMS