PINEHURST – Art Mathews spent 11 days in the hospital after a late-night tumble in the bathroom.
The 88-year-old Southern Pines resident is fine now, but he’s certain he wouldn’t be if not for FirstHealth Response.
“I can’t praise it enough, because I think it saved my life,” Mathews says. “I really do.”
FirstHealth Response is a personal emergency response service based at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital. With the simple touch of a waterproof personal help button that sends a signal through an Emergency Home Communicator connected to the home telephone line, the service puts the subscriber in touch with 24-hour emergency assistance at FirstHealth’s on-site FirstComm telecommunications center at Moore Regional Hospital.
Trained personnel receive the signal and immediately try to reach the subscriber at home. If the subscriber can’t be reached, one of the subscriber’s designated responders (identified relative or friend) or, if the situation seems more serious, EMS or the police will be contacted.
A built-in inactivity timer in the home communicator alerts the monitoring center if the subscriber is unable to press the help button and has not been heard from in a specified amount of time. The equipment also includes battery back-up and a built-in speaker phone that allows the subscriber to talk with the monitoring center if he/she is close enough to the home communicator.
Offered by FirstHealth for more than two decades, the service now has 1,133 subscribers in Moore, Lee, Richmond, Scotland, Montgomery, Anson, Harnett, Chatham, Robeson and Hoke counties.
“We keep it totally local,” says program supervisor Sherry Chatfield. “(Subscribers) are talking to someone at FirstHealth, and we’re always available.”
The monthly fee is $21 in Moore County and $23.50 in other areas. A limited number of program sponsorships – provided by The Foundation of FirstHealth, The Whispers and the Whispering Pines Thrift Shop – are available. Some churches also provide sponsorships for members of their congregation.
There is no service installation fee, sign-on fee or equipment to buy, but telephone connection can only be made through a land line.
“It does not work with a cell phone,” Chatfield says.
Mathews, who moved to Moore County 46 years ago from Missouri, began subscribing to the FirstHealth Response program in 2011 after a fall in his garage. “My children talked to me about getting it,” he says. “I went ahead and got it to keep the family happy.”
He’d never had occasion to use the system, though, until the bathroom fall several weeks ago. The system worked so well for him that he has since convinced a friend to become a subscriber and has talked with other friends about getting the service, too.
“I wouldn’t be without it,” he says. “I don’t think anyone living by themselves should be without it. I believed in it when I got it, and I’m a firm believer in it now.”
For more information on FirstHealth Response or on how to subscribe to the service, call (910) 715-1271 or (800) 213-3284 toll-free or visitwww.firsthealth.org/response.
Southern Pines resident Art Mathews has been a FirstHealth Response subscriber since 2011, but he’d never had occasion to use the emergency response service until a few weeks ago. The system worked so well for him that he has since convinced a friend to become a subscriber and has talked with other friends about getting the service, too.