Pilot program hopes to ease pressure from ‘heavy users’ of emergency care

Bluewater Health and Lambton County EMS have funding until next spring

Pictured in front of Bluewater Health’s Emergency Department entrance are Steve Pancino, manager of Emergency Medical Services for the County of Lambton, Jennifer Srinivasan and Blake Smith, community [aramedics, Nadine Krasinkiewicz, manager: Patient Flow, Emergency Services, Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, and Laurie Zimmer, vice president of Operations.

Patients in Sarnia Lambton who have been pre-identified as frequent 911 callers and Emergency Department patients, are now able to access proactive, non-emergency care through the Community Paramedicine Program.

The pilot program, expected to run until March 2018, is the result of a partnership between Bluewater Health and Lambton County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) with funding provided by the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (ESC LHIN). The pilot also includes strong collaboration with primary care as well as home and community care to ensure that patients receive the right level of care for their individual needs.

Using a proactive approach, paramedics who have received additional training, are equipped to provide care for patients who have needs that do not require a trip to the hospital Emergency Department. The Community Paramedicine Program will primarily impact people who may have mental health, geriatric or complex chronic diseases and/or those people who have difficulty accessing healthcare.

The program began on August 7 and the Community Paramedics are currently supporting 12 high-user patients.

“The Rapids Family Health Team is pleased to partner with the new Community Paramedic Program,” says Lynn Laidler, executive director of the Rapids Family Health Team. “We feel this is a great opportunity to better serve our patients, allow them to stay safely in their own homes longer and reduce visits to the local Emergency Room.”

Steve Pancino, manager of Emergency Medical Services for the County of Lambton, has seen this type of program succeed in other communities, “We anticipate the Community Paramedicine program will see similar reductions in 911 usage, hospital ED visits and improved patient outcomes.”

According to Laurie Zimmer, Bluewater Health vice president of Operations, “The Community Paramedicine Programs is an example of how we can work together as healthcare partners to ensure that patients are able to get the right care, at the right time, by the right provider, in the right setting.”

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