Paramedicine seeks fund­ing

Lambton County pilot project for home-based care by paramedics is show­ing pos­i­tive re­sults

The Observer (Sarnia) - - NEWS - PAUL MORDEN pmor­den@post­media.com

Lambton County of­fi­cials are wait­ing to hear if On­tario’s new govern­ment will pro­vide more cash for a pro­gram show­ing good re­sults help­ing heavy users of emer­gency rooms and am­bu­lances.

The com­mu­nity paramedicine pilot pro­gram sends spe­cially trained Lambton County paramedics into the homes of chronic users of emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices. It also pro­vides out­reach ser­vices for other county res­i­dents strug­gling to ac­cess a fam­ily doc­tor.

The pilot be­gan in 2017 and, as of March, had made about 1,000 house calls to pa­tients re­ferred by the emer­gency depart­ment at Blue­wa­ter Health. The re­sult was a 62 per cent drop in 911 calls, 58 per cent fewer emer­gency depart­ment vis­its and a 55 per cent drop in hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions.

The pilot was funded by Blue­wa­ter Health and the Erie St. Clair Lo­cal Health In­te­gra­tion Net­work (LHIN) but is ex­pected to cost the county, which op­er­ates the lo­cal am­bu­lance ser­vice, ap­prox­i­mately $270,000 a year to run per­ma­nently.

So far, the prov­ince pro­vides $45,000 a year and the county has been work­ing through the LHIN to in­crease that fund­ing.

County coun­cil agreed Wed­nes­day to a plan to use a $125,000 grant from the AgeFriendly Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Project to con­tinue the pilot pro­gram to March while work con­tin­ues to se­cure full pro­vin­cial fund­ing. A re­port to coun­cil said that, given the re­cent change in the pro­vin­cial govern­ment, no new fund­ing de­ci­sions have been made.

“We’re op­ti­mistic that no news is good news right now,” said Steve Pan­cino, man­ager of the county’s emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices.

Re­sults from the pilot “far out­weigh the ac­tual cost of pro­gram,” he said. “For those rea­sons, we think we’ve got a pretty strong case to make.”

The pilot re­cently saw its 100th pa­tient, Pan­cino said.

It has also re­cently be­gan of­fer­ing monthly well­ness clin­ics in sev­eral un­der­ser­viced ar­eas of the county to reach se­niors and “at-risk” res­i­dents with­out pri­mary care physi­cians or trans­porta­tion to a doc­tor’s of­fice.

“We’re see­ing a lot of up­take in that,” Pan­cino said.

The clin­ics visit Moore­town, For­est, In­wood, Wat­ford and Thed­ford.

Three clin­ics held so far saw ap­prox­i­mately 70 pa­tients, he said.

“It’s re­ally about set­ting up an ac­cess point for a lot of the vul­ner­a­ble se­niors in the com­mu­nity.”

SUP­PLIED

Jen Srini­vasan, a Lambton County para­medic with the paramedicine pro­gram, is shown with Mar­garet Al­bert. The suc­cess­ful pilot pro­gram is work­ing to se­cure fund­ing from the prov­ince to con­tinue op­er­at­ing.

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