A community mobile paramedic initiative that rolled out in Red Deer earlier this year is also available to some private homes through referrals for seniors.
The team in Red Deer, which started working in February, is made up of six paramedics who staff three units – SUV-type vehicles to carry advanced equipment for assessment and treatment.
Unlike a traditional paramedic, mobile paramedics provide on-site care to seniors and others with chronic conditions at continuing care centres, reducing the use of ambulances, acute care beds and hospital resources.
Around springtime, the program expanded to surrounding communities, providing care to seniors at continuing care centres in Lacombe, Sylvan Lake, Innisfail, Bentley and Blackfalds.
The team connects with physicians before proceeding with a treatment plan. They are trained in wound treatment, diagnostics, electrocardiograms, IVs and blood transfusions.
Since this summer, the Red Deer team also started making house calls through referrals. Michele Smith, Alberta Health Service’s south sector manager for mobile integrated health care, said it was an expansion that started on its own through referrals and relationships.
“We thought we would have to officially launch that referral pathway, but it happened organically through relationship building and the opportunity for discovering and exploring,” said Smith, who is based in Calgary.
The Red Deer mobile paramedics team is at 70 per cent capacity, she said.
“There’s going to be a great chance to continue to evolve those (relationships) and continue to have a number of different requests for service or referral sources without having to have a formal phase,” she explained.
Mobile paramedic teams including Red Deer, Wetaskiwin and Camrose look after about 1,423 patients in AHS’s central zone.
The number of patients in Red Deer and surrounding area is around 960. This includes more than 50 patients that receive care in their private homes in Red Deer, Wetaskiwin and Camrose.
The remaining majority receive care at continuing care centres such as Points West Living, Extendicare Michener Hill, Villa Marie in Red Deer, and Bethany Sylvan Lake, Innisfail’s Sunset Manor and Lacombe’s Royal Oak Manor.
The program is helpful, Smith said, adding the goal is to increase overall health-care system capacity.
“They’re receiving care very proactively instead of waiting for their health-care issue or challenge to become an emergency, so we’re able to provide some preventative medicine in a way that would again ease some of those pressures and improve patient health much earlier, so they’re not having to rely on emergency department or go outside of their medical home to receive care,” she said.