Paramedicine skips Houston

Emergency Health Services chose Chetwynd, Fort St. James and Hazelton to launch phase one of the paramedicine program.

Emergency Health Services chose Chetwynd, Fort St. James and Hazelton to launch phase one of the paramedicine program.

Community paramedicine is a new program meant to increase access to basic health services through Ambulance paramedics.

It would be for non-urgent, primary care in patients’ homes or in the community and be done in partnership with local health care providers, said Preet Grewal, Communications Officer for B.C. Emergency Health Services.

In 2014, the province committed to create at least 80 new full-time positions in paramedicine, which will be implemented across B.C. April 2015 to March 2019.

Bringing paramedicine to Houston was one of five Northern Health recommendations released February 6 in the Houston Health Review.

Houston Councillor Jonathan Van Barneveld is optimistic that it is coming.

“I know that Northern Health is working to get it in our community, so I would imagine that Houston will be receiving it very shortly,” he said.

Jodi Jensen, Chief Operating Officer with B.C. Emergency Health Services, says the program is being rolled out gradually.

Phase one launched with the Northern Health Authority in April. It will launch in the interior in May or June and on the island late summer, she said.

“This rolling start provides the opportunity to focus attention on one Health Authority at a time,” said Jensen.

It “enables community paramedics to develop the contacts needed in each community to ensure they will be well-integrated members of the established health care teams.”

Jensen says phase one is investigative and exploratory.

“Community paramedics will initially be working with local health providers to better understand the health care needs and service gaps in the community, help define the scope of services required and participate in the development of a local service plan,” she said.

After phase one is evaluated, Jensen says they will identify the community needs paramedicine can address and develop a criteria for implementing the program successfully.

She says that information will be available in the fall of 2015.

“In the next phase, community paramedicine will be expanded to more rural or remote communities in B.C.” Jensen said.

“It is anticipated that regulatory changes will be made to support a broader scope of practice that will enable the community paramedic to provide a greater range of services.”