Kawartha Lakes launches Paramedic Pilot program for seniors

By Lindsay Advocate

Kawartha Lakes launches Community Paramedic Pilot Program
Registered Nurse Christina Janke discusses patients with Paramedic Julie Milne.

On Monday September 23, Kawartha Lakes Paramedic Service began the first day of the three-month Community Paramedic Pilot program. The program, which was approved by Council in February, was created to help reduce patient re-admission with a focus on seniors at Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay.

The Advocate first broke the story last December about the many seniors in our area who were falling through the cracks and not getting the care they needed. Soon after, Council stepped up to provide funding to paramedics to try and address these needs.

“We’ve been eager to begin this program with Ross Memorial,” stated Autumn Campbell, Superintendent, Kawartha Lakes Paramedic Services. “We are hopeful that we will begin to see an impact on the number of re-admissions and patient care needs through the launch of this initiative.”

Earlier in the year, Ross Memorial indicated that they were experiencing patient over-capacity, looking specifically at the number of available beds and the rate of patients who were either being re-admitted into their care or were waiting to be transitioned to a long-term care facility. A community stakeholder meeting earlier in the year also identified that our senior demographic was seeing the highest rates of re-admission, placing the emphasis of the program on identifying their needs during the “hospital to home” transition.

“Those who are discharged early, or who may require attention but do not meet the criteria to stay admitted, will benefit by ensuring their needs are addressed while living at home,” explained Sara Johnston, Acting Chief, Kawartha Lakes Paramedic Services. “For those who are waiting to be transferred to long-term care, this program will help bridge the transition by monitoring their status until a facility is available, while also making room for additional patients at Ross Memorial.”

The pilot program, which has been allocated $25,000 in program funding, aims at assisting patients who are at high-risk for re-admission by scheduling a paramedic five days a week to make home visits. The visits will be looking at how the individual is doing from a vital sign perspective, including their level of awareness, cognitive ability and assessing their living space to evaluate if it is safe to live in. Julie Milne with Kawartha Lakes Paramedic Services will be the designated Paramedic scheduled to make the visits throughout the three-month period.

“Transitioning patients from hospital to home in a safe and timely way impacts everyone needing care at the hospital,” said Anne Overhoff, RMH Chief Nursing Executive. “We’re grateful to our Paramedic partners, and to the municipality for supporting this innovative pilot project.”

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