Health Care Heroes: Larry Smythe Jr.

Chief Paramedic and Director of Pre-Hospital Services, Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital.

Larry Smythe Jr.; Chief Paramedic and Director of Pre-Hospital Services, Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital

Most paramedics want to get patients to a hospital as quickly as possible, but keeping them out of the hospital is also the mission of Larry Smythe Jr. A paramedic for 35 years, Smythe created Mercy Fitzgerald’s Community Paramedicine Program last year. The first of its kind in Delaware County and one of only three in the state, the program strives to reduce “super user” hospital visits by providing in-home care to those who’ve been recently discharged. 

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What Smythe often finds in patients’ homes is both alarming and easily fixable. One COPD sufferer used the stove to heat her house because her heater broken. Smythe got on the phone himself, and the repair was made immediately. The woman’s breathing improved, and that meant no more trips to the ER

During another home visit, Smythe discovered that a patient hadn’t taken his insulin in a week because he’d run out of syringes and couldn’t get to the pharmacy. “These small things seem overwhelming to the sick,” says Smythe. “So I sit down at the kitchen table with them and say, ‘Show me all of your medical paperwork, and tell me what you need help doing.’”

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