Paramedicine program announced for Peace communities

Photo by Marcel Sloover

VICTORIA, B.C. — Health Minister Terry Lake has announced that 73 rural and remote B.C. communities, including Chetwynd, Hudson’s Hope and Tumbler Ridge, will welcome community paramedicine.

The program offers residents enhanced health services from paramedics. Lake says it’s a key component of their plan to improve access to primary health care services in rural B.C.

“By building upon the skills and background of paramedics, we are empowering them to expand access to care for people who live in rural and remote communities, helping patients get the care they need closer to home,” he added.

At least 80 new full-time equivalent positions are aimed to support the implementation of community paramedicine. Positions will be posted across the regional health authorities. In northern B.C., community paramedics are expected to start providing service this fall, with the rest of the province following into 2017.

Paramedics will visit rural patients in their home or community, perform assessments requested by the referring health-care professional, and record their findings to be included in the patient’s file. They will also be able to teach skills such as CPR at community clinics.

“Community paramedics will focus on helping people stay healthy and the specific primary care needs of the people in these communities,” said Linda Lupini, executive vice president, BC Emergency Health Services.

Bronwyn Barter, president of Ambulance Paramedics of BC CUPE 873 says paramedics are ‘well-suited to take on this important role’ in health-care provision.

This method was initially introduced in the province in 2015 in nine prototype communities. Now, it has expanded across the province, and will be in place in 31 Interior communities, 18 northern communities, 19 Island communities, and five communities in the Vancouver coastal area this year.