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Expanded community paramedics to help seniors and vulnerable Albertans

The expanded program includes Red Deer, Camrose and Wetaskiwin

Red Deer and area is one of the first communities in the province to see the benefits of expanded community paramedic teams.

The $11-million expansion will provided on-site care to seniors and other Albertans with chronic conditions. This will reduce ambulance transport, acute care beds and hospital resource, according to a press release from the Alberta Government.

The expansion includes an additional 26 paramedics who will form teams in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Camrose/Wetaskiwin, Grande Prairie and Peace River to provide for home and continuing care patients.

Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne believes everyone wins with the expanded program as it helps patients avoid “stressful trips to the emergency department.”

“These paramedics are effective and compassionate frontline workers, helping Albertans get the right care at the right time, right in their own homes,” Payne said the release.

The expanded program will also include the addition of 20 full-time community paramedics to work in a dedicated call centre in Calgary and Edmonton. The call centre will provide “specialized support” for vulnerable Albertans.

Each community paramedic is trained in various areas of health care and can provide treatments such as sutures, diagnostics and electrocardiograms, IV treatments and blood transfusions.

It is estimated more than 90 per cent of patients referred to community paramedics can be treated on-site, as needed or on a regularly scheduled basis.

Yvonne Routledge, 96, says the community paramedic program makes her medical care easier and less stress full.

“At 96, ongoing medical care is just part of life,” Routledge said. “The paramedics are excellent and I’m happier because I don’t always have to be taken to hospital for treatment that can easily be done in the comfort of my home.”

The paramedics will consult with each patient’s doctor, but are also supported by on-call physicians.

It is believed the program will support more than 20,000 Albertans when fully rolled out.

The communities outside of the major metropolitan centres of Calgary and Edmonton were selected based on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and emergency department admissions related to continuing care facilities.

Darren Sandbeck, EMS chief paramedic with Alberta Health Services, says the community paramedics will reduce stress for patients, families and hospitals.

“Community paramedics reduce stress for patients and their families, but also improve access to medical care for vulnerable people.” Snapback said.

The community paramedic program rolled out in Red Deer, Camrose and Wetaskiwin on Feb. 12. The communities of Grande Prairie and Peace River will follow on March 25. Medicine Hat and Lethbridge is expected to roll out in May of this year.

The call centre for vulnerable populations in Edmonton opened on Feb. 12, the Calgary centre is expected to open on April 26.



megan.roth@sylvanlakenews.com

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