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WATERTOWN — Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization and the North Country Initiative recently donated 1,296 thermometers to six local pediatric health centers in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

The donation of the thermometers is part of an ongoing effort by FDRHPO and NCI for the purpose of funding remote patient monitoring devices, to expand work within digital inclusion for patients, as well as part of the “Call Us First Campaign,” which aims at limiting avoidable emergency department visits by encouraging patients to contact their primary care team first for minor acute concerns.

“It is our goal that these thermometers will not only be a tool for families to check their and their children’s temperatures but will also serve as a tangible reminder to call primary care first for minor acute needs, such as fever,” Joanna Loomis, NCI deputy director, said in a statement. “Each thermometer has a label with the name and phone number of the primary care practice. As Patient-Centered Medical Homes, the practices have 24/7 triage lines that patients can call and receive medical advice, including to set up a same-day or next-day primary care appointment if needed.”

“As the Primary Care Provider (PCP) we know our patients the best; we know their medical history, social history, and medications. We have built trusting relationships with our patients. Emergency departments play an important role in the healthcare system, specifically, they are best suited for treating life-threatening or urgent emergencies. Your PCP is the one to see not only for preventative care but for acute illnesses such as the flu, strep throat, UTIs, or back pain,” said North Country Family Health Center Clinical Operations Officer Barb Fargo.

The thermometers were donated to six health care centers and placed on display and distributed for free to patients as they visit their primary health care providers.

“We are handing the thermometers out to new and existing pediatric patients and their families. We inform our parents we are here for them not only for preventative visits but also when/if their child is not feeling well. We ask them to call us first for non-urgent/life-threatening situations BEFORE they go to urgent care or the emergency room. We have same day/sick visit appointments and can see them if they have any questions or concerns or do not feel well,” Fargo said.

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