September 18, 2017 5:13 pm

Paramedics offer new program aimed at keeping patients at home longer

Some paramedics in our region are no longer responding to just 911 emergency calls. They're also providing advance care para-medicine in a patient's own home. Through a new pilot program that's just expanded into several counties in our region. Morganne Campbell takes a look at the benefits.

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The Southeast Local Health Integration Network announced last week in Belleville that it is investing over $300,000 in community paramedicine programs in Hastings, Kingston-Frontenac and the Counties of Leeds-Grenville.

It’s a move that could change the role of a paramedic and it’s an idea that’s being welcomed by both front-line workers and patients.

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“If we can see patients in their home, we can keep them in their home safer for longer periods of time and that decreases the amount of time they’re calling an ambulance,” explained Doug Socha, the Chief of the Hastings County Paramedic Service.

The pilot project will see paramedics travel to patients homes and provide non-emergency care to those with multiple, complex illnesses or health problems complicated by disabilities.

It’s a move that’s expected to decrease the number of emergency room visits while improving the level of care patients receive.

“Having community paramedics go and see patients in their home, do an assessment of their home, help them with their diabetes or their chest pain or their shortness of breath and help monitor them in their homes really is helping to keep them there safer longer,” said Socha.

READ MORE: Home visits by Hamilton paramedics aim to reduce 911 calls, hospital admissions

Last year, Hastings County teamed up with paramedics in Renfrew for a similar program, funded by the federal government, which treated about 200 patients over one year.

The research found that patients were successfully connected to other services to better manage their health-care needs, such as Community Care Access Centres.

“They proved that and this was an opportunity to fund it now and it really is confirming that what they were thinking before was right and is providing a valuable additional service,” said Paul Huras, the CEO of the Southeast Local Health Integrated Network.

READ MORE: Expanded duties no solution to emergency care backlog, say paramedics

The expanded program will target frequent users of the paramedic service, Indigenous people, and patients referred from the ER, long-term care homes and community welfare services.

Anyone interested in taking part in the program is being asked to contact their family doctor or primary health-care provider. The hope to have the program up and running sometime in the fall.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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