The Province’s Community Paramedicine Initiative, which started back in April, is reporting the program is doing well and meeting the needs of the community.
Jasmin Gasser is the paramedic hired to fill the new Community Paramedicine position here in Valemount, and gave a presentation at the Nov. 22 council meeting.
“This is a community-based model,” says Gasser.
“Community paramedics provide primary care services within their scope of practice to increase access to basic health care services in non-urgent settings,” she says.
Primary care is day-to-day healthcare given by providers such as physicians, nurse practitioners, family nurse practitioners or a physician assistant. The new initiative sees some of these jobs delegated to a community paramedic.
The services provided may include checking blood pressure, assisting with diabetic care, helping to identify fall hazards, medication assessment, post-injury or illness evaluation, and assisting with respiratory conditions. The paramedics will perform assessments requested by the referring health-care professional, and record their findings for the patient’s file. The enhanced role will not replace care provided by health professionals such as nurses, but will complement and support their work.
Valemount and McBride are two of the 73 rural and remote B.C. communities — all smaller communities, or what Gasser calls “casual stations” — welcoming the Community Paramedicine Initiative, while the program offers residents enhanced health services from paramedics.
Valemount and McBride both have a half-time equivalent under the new initiative.
Criteria for the communities to participate in the program included defining the respective communities as rural, small rural and remote, the communities must be served by an existing ambulance station, and of course, the stations must be “casual” stations.
One of the goals set out by the Province is to stabilize the staffing of paramedics in rural and remote communities. Earlier this year, Northern Health told the Goat recruiting paramedics to the Valley and keeping them had been a difficult task.
The new program is part of the B.C. government’s plan to enhance primary care service delivery to British Columbians.
“This program creates better access and fewer gaps in healthcare services for rural and remote communities,” says Gasser.
“There are fewer unnecessary calls to 9-1-1 calls and trips to the Emergency Room… and improved recruitment and retention of paramedics in these communities,” she says.
Under this program, the Province says paramedics will provide services in partnership with local health-care providers, delivered in non-urgent settings, which essentially means in patients’ homes or in the community.
“Ensuring rural communities have access to health-care services is critical. We rely on our paramedics and this new program will enhance the work they already do,” said Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond.
“Both McBride and Valemount will benefit from the expansion of the paramedicine program,” she said.
BC Emergency Health Services has been coordinating the implementation of community paramedicine with the Ministry of Health, regional health authorities, the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873), the First Nations Health Authority and others.
The program will be evaluated over the multi-year project cycle, according to the Province, as the B.C. Government will analyze impacts or changes with sufficient evidence to support policy and practice, as well as identifying important lessons learned throughout the pilot project.