Community Paramedicine Initiative to improve health care access in Rossland

Rossland is one of 73 BC communities that will participate in a provincial program offering residents enhanced services from paramedics.

Rossland is one of 73 BC communities that will participate in a provincial program offering residents enhanced services from paramedics.

Terry Lake, BC minister of health, announced Wednesday that “73 rural and remote BC communities” would welcome the Community Paramedicine Initiative.

“The Community Paramedicine Initiative is a key component of our plan to improve access to primary health-care services in rural BC,” Lake said in a press release. “By building upon the skills and background of paramedics, we are empowering them to expand access to care for people who live in rural and remote communities, helping patients get the care they need closer to home.”

The program is being launched by BC Emergency Health Services in partnership with the Ministry of Health, the Ambulance Paramedics of BC and others. Through the Community Paramedicine Initiative, community paramedics will assist in delivering basic health care services in partnership with local health care providers. They won’t replace nurses or other health professionals, but they will deliver non-emergency services that can be done in people’s homes or in the community. Services could 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.”

“Community paramedics will focus on helping people stay healthy and the specific primary care needs of the people in these communities,” said Linda Lupini, executive vice president for BC Emergency Health Services, in the press release. “This program also allows us to enhance our ability to respond to medical emergencies by offering permanent employment to paramedics in rural and remote areas of the province.”

The program began in nine prototype communities in 2015, and is now ready to expand throughout the province. A total of 31 communities in the Interior will benefit from the program, which is expected to start delivering services in the region in early 2017. Overall, the initiative will provide 80 new full-time equivalent positions in BC.

For more information, visit bcehs.ca/our-services/programs-services/community-paramedicine.