The STARS Program

The STARS program helps coordinate and coach ambulance districts, fire districts and community hospitals to:
  • Recognize the special needs of patients inside their coverage area
  • Undergo the appropriate, specialized training to care for these patients’ special medical needs
The goal is to have pertinent patient information in the hands of the medical professionals before they even arrive at the patient’s side. This way they can provide the care needed immediately and skillfully. This ultimately helps decrease anxiety and painful, unnecessary measures and in achieving better outcomes, faster.

Children who especially benefit are those with:

  • Significant developmental delay
  • Seizure disorders
  • Cardiac history
  • In-clinic mental health evaluation
  • Cerebral shunts
  • Tracheostomies
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Children with a DNR order
  • Any atypical disease or syndrome

How STARS works

The fire or ambulance district will appoint a STARS coordinator and determine a point of contact for families.

Then comes the job of identifying children to participate in the program. Always following best practices to ensure children’s and families’ privacy, this can include:
  • Communication with local discharging hospitals or other community service institutions
  • Familiarization with the district and/or community outreach like:
    • Sending a letter explaining STARS and how participants can benefit
    • Social media posts from the districts encouraging families to sign up
Once a child—or a “star”—is identified for the program, each patient will be given a STARS number or identifier, and a home visit is scheduled with the patient and family. This is to secure pertinent medical information and share realistic expectations about the program, like the district’s capabilities and limitations. Open communication is key!

Special advanced training and education is then provided by SSM Cardinal Glennon for the ambulance district, fire department and/or the community hospital. Pre-plans are then set to match the anticipated needs of the “star” child for those emergency or hospitalization situations.

How STARS is successful

The STARS program works best if the most current pre-plan is in the hands of the first responders and local hospital so they may reference it prior to seeing the child.

Regular contact between caregivers and first responders for updates on medical changes is imperative. When changes are made, information should be shared with all parties involved, following—of course—the rules and regulations for “flagging” an address and passing private health information from one caregiver to another.

STARS was created by experienced first responders and training is coordinated through and provided by SSM Cardinal Glennon, where experienced staff are acutely aware of the capabilities and limitations of first responders and community hospitals. Thus, making the relationship one of mutual benefit