Program would help EMS do at-home wellness checks
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | June 8, 2017
Councillors are cautiously approaching a second attempt at a paramedicine program in Haliburton County.
In 2014, a trial run wasn’t as successful as the county had hoped it would be due to a lack of referrals. The county received $85,000 from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for the project. It was one of 30 communities in the province that received money.
Warden Brent Devolin, who was just the reeve of Minden Hills at the time, called it “a bomb” during a council meeting in October 2015. Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt said there was a lack of collaboration between community partners to make it work.
Tim Waite, the deputy chief of quality assurance of the paramedic service, recently told council about the Central East Local Health Integration’s (LHIN) latest call for proposals for community paramedicine programs. A pot of about $6 million in one-time and base funding is available from the province for communities that want to “increase access to care to residents.” About $457,000 will be allocated to the Central East LHIN, which includes Haliburton County, said Waite.
However, there was only a three-week window to submit applications. He said the initial deadline was May 26, but it was extended by a week to June 2.
“It was new to me and there were very tight timelines on the application process,” said Waite.
A community paramedicine program would see local paramedics visit patients at home to ensure they are taking their medication. Risk assessment and falls prevention would be part of their work.
The intended outcome is to reduce emergency room visits and help older residents live at home longer.
Waite partnered with the director of Community Support Services, a division of Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS), on the application.
In an email, HHHS CEO Carolyn Plummer said referrals will primarily come from the organization’s Geriatric Assessment and Intervention Network (GAIN).
“The GAIN team, which has a full and busy caseload, is well positioned to identify individuals who would most benefit from regular wellness checks that would complement the care and services already being provided to these clients,” she said.
Home and Community Care (formerly CCAC) and the Haliburton Highlands Family Team will also partner with paramedics, added Plummer.
At the council meeting, Devolin expressed concern about the short turnaround time.
“That seems like many months’ worth of dialogue and planning ... you’re in a very delicate position,” he said.
Dysart Reeve Murray Fearrey was worried about launching the program too quickly.
“Every time we’ve done that we’ve failed,” said Fearrey.
“I think it’s a good program. I just want to make sure it’s successful,” he said.
Highlands East Deputy Reeve Suzanne Partridge said this program will be beneficial to the community, especially those who have to travel to access health care services.
“I think this is a really great program,” said Partridge.
In the end, council directed Waite to submit a proposal to the Central East LHIN by the deadline.
Successful applicants will be notified by July 7.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.