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Ontario pilot to let paramedics treat palliative patients on scene to run in Ottawa

Two people were taken to hospital, one with life-threatening injuries, following a motor vehicle collision Monday morning.
Two people were taken to hospital, one with life-threatening injuries, following a motor vehicle collision Monday morning. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Ontario is launching a new pilot project that will allow paramedics to treat palliative care patients on scene for symptoms, rather than being obligated to take them to hospital.

It is part of the government’s plan to ease hospital overcrowding, Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday.

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“By providing palliative care patients and their families with more options to receive treatment in their home or community, we’re improving patients’ access to the right care in the right place, a key pillar of our comprehensive plan to end hallway health care,” Elliott said in a statement.

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“This new innovative model of care will help reduce unnecessary hospital visits to crowded emergency departments.”

The one-year pilot will be run in Ottawa, starting in April, and is the first project under new ambulance rules to let paramedics take patients to facilities other than a hospital emergency department.

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Other pilot projects are in the works to allow paramedics to take patients to mental health and addictions crisis centres.

Under the Ottawa trial run, specially trained paramedics will be able to treat palliative care patients, including administering medication for pain relief, shortness of breath, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting and terminal congested breathing.

The patient can ask at any time to instead be taken to a hospital.