Paramedicine seeks funding
Lambton County pilot project for home-based care by paramedics is showing positive results
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.”
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.