Community paramedic program in city expands

By Lindsay Advocate

Registered nurse Christina Janke discusses patients with paramedic Julie Milne.

With the support of the Ontario government, more Kawartha Lakes seniors are being supported to stay safely in their homes while awaiting long-term care through the city’s community paramedic program, according to a media release.

Since 2019, Kawartha Lakes has been providing care to seniors through the Community Paramedic Program. Beginning with one paramedic in 2019, today there are four full time community paramedics and plans are in place to increase that number to eight within two years. In early 2022, Kawartha Lakes received confirmation of $5 million over the next three years to expand the program with fleet, equipment and staffing. The program is funded entirely by the province and operated by Kawartha Lakes Paramedic Service.

The program is based out of the former Oakwood Fire Station and services all of Kawartha Lakes. Sara Johnston, deputy chief, professional standards, commented, “This program is unique because it allows us to wrap services around the patient. We’re currently serving an average of 160 patients a week, from Coboconk to Omemee and all points throughout the municipality. We work closely with partners in primary care, home care and Community Care to provide a safety net for patients.”

Johnston extended appreciation to members of Kawartha Lakes Council, noting they were strong believers in the program since 2019 and provided bridge funding until permanent provincial funding was announced in the fall of 2021.

Marie McAuley, a patient of the Community Paramedic program, shares her story of being cared for by community paramedic Julie Milne:

“I’m 90 years old, am legally blind and live alone. When Julie started checking on me, she discovered that I have a heart condition. She saved my life. I haven’t had a hospital visit in two years. Julie helped me to learn how to monitor myself and the report goes in automatically. If there’s anything irregular, she gets an alert and will call me to see how I’m feeling. When she comes each week, it’s a real bright spot. It saves me going to the doctor, it saves a hospital visit and it makes me feel safe.”

Watch video of Marie sharing her experience with the Community Paramedic program.

“The expansion of the community paramedicine for long-term care program to Kawartha Lakes will support our local seniors by providing them high-quality care when and where they need in their own homes, while they wait for a bed,” says local MPP Laurie Scott. 

The program works alongside primary, home and community care to provide the following services to eligible seniors:

  • Access to health services 24-7, through in-home and remote methods, such as online supports
  • Non-emergency home visits and in-home testing procedures
  • Ongoing monitoring of vital signs to prevent escalation of chronic medical conditions: assessments, referrals, diagnostic procedures and point-of care testing.

“We’ve seen the unquestionable value that community paramedics provide in the few short years the program has been in place. Our seniors, their families and caregivers have the peace of mind they deserve while potentially delaying the need for long-term care,” said Randy Mellow, CMM III – EMS Exec/EMP Chief of Paramedics, City of Kawartha Lakes.

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