Parkland Ambulance temporarily expanding community paramedics program thanks to SHA funding

As of Friday, Parkland Ambulance has two community paramedics available every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Parkland Ambulance/Twitter)

Parkland Ambulance has temporarily added new members to its community paramedics program with funding from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

According to Parkland Ambulance Director of Operations Jordan Ambrose, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased call volumes for their community paramedics, who treat patients in personal care homes, assisted living, the palliative care program, the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease program and long-term care.

“They treat patients in partnership with their family doctor to keep them out of the emergency room,” Ambrose explained.

Because seniors and people with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable to COVID-19, the emergency room isn’t always the safest option for care.

Instead, the community paramedics can treat them in their own homes. This includes, assessments, catheter insertion, specimen collection and administering oral antibiotics and intravenous fluids.

“Especially now with the pandemic, people’s own homes is the safest place for them, especially those who are ill and in a vulnerable population,” Ambrose said.

“It’s really patient-centred and patient-oriented and one thing that’s great with this program is there is no cost to the patient. It’s SHA-funded.”

Ambrose said before the six-month expansion, there was one community paramedic available every day for 12 hours. For the rest of the year, there will be two, allowing them to increase their hours.

The extra positions also allow Parkland to expand the service to a larger geographical area.

“Community Paramedicine is an integral part of our health care system,” said Sherri Julé, director of Emergency Medical Services North and Community Paramedicine Programs for the SHA, in a news release.

“The expansion of the program in Prince Albert will not only enhance service, but will fill gaps that currently exist within the community.”

The community paramedics program launched in June 2018 as a partnership between Parkland Ambulance and the local SHA Primary Health Care team.