Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an infection of the liver that can lead to significant liver damage and hepatocellular carcinoma. Individuals born between 1945 and 1965 and individuals with intravenous drug use represent the largest HCV demographics and often experience barriers to treatment. In this case series, we discuss a novel partnership between community paramedics (CPs), HCV care coordinators, and an infectious disease physician to provide HCV treatment to individuals with barriers accessing care.
Three patients tested positive for HCV within a large hospital system in the upstate region of South Carolina. All of the patients were contacted to discuss their results and scheduled for treatment by the hospital’s HCV care coordination team. Patients who expressed barriers to attending in-person appointments or were lost to follow-up were offered a telehealth appointment facilitated by CPs performing a home visit with the added ability to draw blood and perform a physical assessment guided by the infectious disease physician. All of the patients were eligible for and prescribed treatment. The CPs assisted with follow-up visits, blood draws, and other patient needs.
Two of the three patients connected to care had an undetectable HCV viral load following 4 weeks of treatment, whereas the third was undetectable after 8 weeks. Only one patient reported a mild headache that was potentially linked to the medication, whereas the others did not report any adverse effects.
This case series highlights the barriers experienced by some HCV-positive patients and a distinctive plan to address impediments to access for HCV treatment.