Community paramedics program keeping patients out of the ER

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
April 14, 2018 - 5:39am Updated: April 14, 2018 - 8:35am

RED DEER -- It’s not the silver bullet Red Deer, or any Alberta community, needs to solve its healthcare infrastructure problem, but it’s part of a spectrum of services the government is proud of, says Alberta’s Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, who was in Red Deer on Friday, was referring to the recently expanded community paramedics program.

Launched in Edmonton and Calgary in 2013, the program was expanded to Red Deer and several other mid-sized cities earlier this year. With the program, on-call paramedics who drive SUVs are available for 16 hours per day to go to facilities such as Red Deer’s Points West Living continuing care, and offer healthcare services which keep patients from taking up much needed space in the hospital’s emergency room.

“When we help Albertans avoid stressful trips to the emergency department, everyone wins,” she said. “These paramedics are effective and compassionate frontline workers, helping Albertans get the right care at the right time, right in their own homes.”

Hoffman claims Alberta has one of the largest scopes of practice of all the provinces.

Since the program launched in Red Deer on February 12, the community paramedics have seen 200 patients, while more than 5000 have been treated in the larger centres. Services offered include sutures and wound treatments, diagnostics, ECGs, IV treatments and blood transfusions.

Allan Shurmer, who will soon turn 83, was the first patient at Points West Living in September 2016. He said he is grateful for the community paramedics program.

“I have a different thing every day, so this is the best thing they ever thought of," he exclaimed following a visit from Hoffman. “I’d be waiting six or eight hours (at the hospital) and this takes an hour and a half.”

The expansion also includes the Camrose/Wetaskiwin region, Grande Prairie and Peace River, while Medicine Hat and Lethbridge are expected to launch this May.  

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