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Washington Post Story on Emergency Room Care Spotlights Social Worker

Niels Tangherlini. Photo by Luke Thomas,

Niels Tangherlini. Photo by Luke Thomas,

Cheers to the Washington Post Magazine for its article on a “frequent flier,” a homeless man who repeatedly used ambulances and emergency rooms for basic medical care.

“The Treatment of Kenny Farnsworth,” also put a positive spotlight on California social worker Niels Tangherlini. Tangherlini is also a paramedic and wanted to find a solution for the “frequent flier” problem.

So in 2004 he formed a team of social workers, paramedics and nurse practioners to provide early treatment for San Francisco residents who overused emergency services.

Thanks to Tangherlini the top 911 users dropped their ambulance use by 80 percent in just a year and a half, the article said. Other cities are now duplicating his program.

“A lot of the problems these folks suffer from are things that are not fixable with an ambulance or emergency room,” Tangherlini said.

Q: Social workers often work to find solutions to pressing issues  such as health care services and family counseling. Have you heard of more heroes such as Tangherlini who are creating valuable programs to serve their communities?

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