The Ford Government last year announced that LHINs would be disbanded and instead we would have “Health Teams” and Northumberland was one of the first to form such a team. One of their goals in the first year was to implement a Community Paramedicine program and now MPP David Piccini has announced that this will be funded by the Province to the tune of $342,000. The idea is to take advantage of skills that paramedics already have and do some pro-active health care. So as well as paramedics responding to 911 calls, they will also do things like “assisting with diabetic care, doing medication assessment, providing flu vaccinations, conducting post-injury or illness evaluation, and other care functions”. The overall intent is to improve health care but at less cost by reducing “911 calls, unnecessary emergency department visits and hospital admissions”.
The Paramedics seem to support the idea; Bill Detlor, Chief of Northumberland Paramedics said:
This investment in Community Paramedicine will enable Northumberland’s paramedic professionals to use their full range of skills, expanding their practice beyond pre-hospital emergency care to also deliver illness prevention and health promotion services. … We are very excited to play an active role in local efforts to improve health outcomes as well as patient and caregiver experience of healthcare in our community.
Who wouldn’t want to use the full range of skills they have?
This kind of program is particularly suited to Northumberland because of our demographic of having more older people than average. Approximately 80 per cent of ambulance calls in Northumberland are for people aged 60 or older, and that demographic is expected to be grow faster than any other age group in the county. With this Community Paramedicine program in place, it’s expected that up to 30 per cent of low-acuity calls will be diverted thereby reducing demands on the emergency response system, and alleviating chronic pressures within the health care system.
In year one, target populations will include frail elderly individuals, individuals with mental health conditions or substance addictions, individuals experiencing homelessness, and individuals receiving palliative care.
Services will be delivered across three program areas:
- Remote monitoring: Using Bluetooth-enabled technology in the patient home to capture vital signs such as blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate, which is uploaded to a cloud and monitored daily.
- Mobile clinics: Wellness clinics servicing community members who cannot effectively access care due to socio-economic, mobility or other barriers.
- Home visits and assessments: Referrals from community partners to provide follow-up care.
Community partners such as primary care practitioners, the Geriatric Assessment and Intervention Network (GAIN), Community Care Northumberland (CCN), mental health services, and others will provide referrals 24 hours a day, seven days a week with two dedicated paramedics providing service 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
Most users of an ambulance would be billed a co-pay fee of $45 so I queried if that would apply to users of this new service. The answer is:
There would be no billing to clients for Community Paramedicine services. Should care result in activation of the 911 system resulting in transportation to a hospital, then the co-pay fee for ambulance would apply.
- Northumberland Ontario Health Team Announced – 6 December 2019
- Press Release bY MPP David Piccini
- Background info from Northumberland’s Ontario Health Team
- Northumberland Ontario Health Team web site
- County paramedic web page