B.C. Emergency Health Services (EHS) will start implementing a pilot paramedicine program in three or four communities starting in April.
Preet Grewal, Communications Officer for BC EHS, says they are still discussing potential communities for the pilot program, which will be implemented in phases over four-years.
Community paramedicine is a program that increases access to basic health services by involving Ambulance paramedics in non-urgent, primary care.
The services carried out by paramedics would be in patients’ homes or in the community, and done in partnership with local health care providers, Grewal said.
In 2014, the Province committed to create at least 80 new full-time positions for this paramedicine program, which will be implemented April 2015 to March 2019.
The North West Regional Hospital District Executive and Board sent a letter in February requesting an update on the program.
“Many of our communities continue to struggle covering shifts and providing minimal levels of essential services,” said the board’s letter to EHS.
The letter says that current paramedic work in small rural communities is volunteer, causing paramedics to move on quickly when they find full-time work.
“The creation of a paramedicine program in communities like Queen Charlottes, Stewart, Houston and the Nisga’a Valley Health Centre will provide stability to the level of service provided,” said the board.
The NW Hospital Board also requested that BC EHS establish a Mobile Paramedic Position, who can be sent to areas with no paramedic. This person would work full-time and recruit and train new staff. That was done in Stewart in 2013 and was very successful.