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Ontario Expanding Community Role for Paramedics

Web posted on January 27, 2014

Ontario is supporting the expansion of community paramedicine programs to improve access to home care and community support services for seniors and other patients with chronic conditions. Approximately 13 community paramedicine programs are currently operating in Ontario.

In 2014, 10 additional municipalities and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers are planning to implement community paramedicine initiatives.

"Community Paramedicine programs help patients get the care they need in their communities, while reducing unnecessary emergency room visits and hospital admissions. These new supports for community paramedicine will also help seniors and patients with chronic conditions manage their conditions better and stay healthy." Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

The province is investing $6 million to support the expansion and development of community paramedicine initiatives across the province. These programs allow paramedics to apply their training and skills beyond the traditional role of emergency response, and can include:

* Providing home visits to seniors known to call emergency services frequently, to provide a range of services such as ensuring they are taking their medications as prescribed. More than half of Ontario residents currently have access to community paramedicine programs in their communities.

* Educating seniors in their homes about chronic disease management and helping to connect them to local supports, such as Diabetes Education Teams.

* Helping refer patients to their local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) so that they can be provided with appropriate home care services.

"There is no question that by leveraging the health care training and skills of Ontario paramedics through community paramedicine programs, we are able to improve health care services for our patients, their families and the community. We look forward to working with all of our partners to expand the current programs, launch new programs and share best practices across the health care sector." Norm Gale, President of the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs and Chief of the Superior North Emergency Medical Service.

Community paramedicine programs will work with teams of health professionals, including Health Links, to co-ordinate care for individual patients with complex chronic conditions. These programs will help seniors and other patients to live independently, while helping to reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and hospital admissions.

Ensuring seniors and other high need patients can access the right care, at the right time, in the right place, supports Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care. This is part of the Ontario government's plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.