It’s been less than two months since a community mobile paramedic program rolled out in Red Deer and already there are plans for expansion.
Ryan Kozicky, director of EMS mobile integrated health care (provincially), said the program will be introduced to Lacombe, Sylvan Lake, Innisfail, and Bentley around mid-April.
Unlike a traditional paramedic, a community paramedic provides on-site non-emergency-type-care to seniors and others with chronic conditions, at continuing care centres, like Points West Living and Extendicare Michener Hill in Red Deer. The program reduces the use of ambulance transport, acute care beds and hospital resources.
Kozicky, based in Calgary, said the response has been positive towards the program that started in Red Deer on Feb. 12.
The community paramedic response team in Red Deer is made up of five full-time community paramedics who man SUV-type vehicles that consists of equipment for assessment and treatment.
Kozicky said, in Red Deer, the community paramedic members drive two to three units every day averaging about 20 calls per week. The same team will go out to the outlining communities where the program will be available to seniors and continuing care centres.
Kozicky said the program is also growing in Red Deer and will soon be available to private residents for the “vulnerable population” like those who have chronic conditions.
He said the Red Deer community paramedics team is creating referral pathways by partnering with Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, Parent Care Network, and family physicians in the city.
“We’re providing them the ability to refer patients (to us) that they think will fill the requirement,” he said, adding that this will increase patient base.
The paramedic team connects with physicians to understand patient concern before proceeding with a treatment plan. They are trained in wound treatment, diagnostics, electrocardiograms, IV treatments and blood transfusions.
Although the program is new to some communities like Red Deer, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat, it’s not new to Edmonton and Calgary. Last year community paramedics helped close to 15,000 patients in the two cities.