Muskoka Paramedic Services Delivers Care at
Community Wellness Clinics
November 19, 2018
Muskoka Paramedic Services in the District Municipality of Muskoka, launched the second phase of its community paramedicine program this October, increasing access to care for residents. Community paramedics will now provide health care services - assessments, preventative care, patient education, and documentation - at local wellness clinics as part of community events.
Community paramedicine is a model of health care in which paramedics apply their training and expertise in community-based, non-emergency care roles, outside of their customary emergency response and ambulance transport roles under the Ambulance Act. Community paramedicine can improve access to care for vulnerable patients by building upon existing partnerships and collaborations, making the most of current health resources.
“Access to healthcare can be a challenge for many individuals in Muskoka due to limited transportation, restrictive medical conditions, and limited knowledge and awareness of what services are available to meet their needs,” says Jeff McWilliam, Chief, Paramedic Services and Emergency Planning for the District of Muskoka. “With our unique geography, influx of tourism, and seasonal population increases, Muskoka required a proactive service that can account for these demands and build off the great services, programs, and transformation efforts currently underway in the area.”
After receiving funding from the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN in December 2017, Muskoka Paramedic Services recruited six staff to train as community paramedics. Two paramedics did online and in-class training focused on the social determinants of health, assessments and education for wellness clinics, to become level-one community paramedics.
To further qualify as a level-two community paramedic, four paramedics participated in a 30-week advanced certification program with Saskatchewan Polytechnic. The program covered geriatric care, specialized therapeutics, chronic disease management, mental health and addictions, and palliative care. Participants completed an online portion, in-class skills lab, and a 210-hour community practicum. Level-two scope of care includes areas such as:
- Mental health and addiction screening
- Trip/fall risks
- Diabetic foot assessments
- Chronic disease management and education
- Palliative patient assessments
- Nutritional assessments
- Wound care
- Urinary catheter insertion and flushing
- Influenza immunizations
- Intravenous therapy
- Administration of medication
To complete their workshop requirement, level-two community paramedics are currently being hosted by the Cottage Country Family Health Team, the Algonquin Family Health Team, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, Muskoka Health Link, The Pines Long-Term Care Home, and GreenStone Muskoka. Once certified, level-two community paramedics will partner with Family Health Teams on an ongoing basis to support patients, particularly those living in more remote communities and frequent users of the 9-11 system. Workshops will be completed by the end of 2018, and level-two community paramedics are expected to begin home visits in January, 2019. The community paramedicine program will operate separately from operations, which means that all community paramedics will have dedicated community paramedicine shifts.
“Muskoka and the surrounding area represents the largest geography in the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN. Having community paramedicine capacity in this sub-region will increase health care access to remote, vulnerable, and currently underserved populations,” explains Dr. Rebecca Van Iersel, Vice-President Clinical, North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN. “The goal is to improve the health of vulnerable populations while reducing the number of unnecessary visits to the emergency department.”
The next wellness clinic is scheduled for November 21 at the Milford Bay Community Centre, 1020 Beaumaris Road, from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
- Muskoka Paramedic Services provides emergency and non-emergency, out of hospital paramedic level care to approximately 62,000 permanent residents and an additional 85,000 seasonal residents over a 4,800 square kilometre area.
- Muskoka Paramedic Services responded to more than 18,000 requests for service in 2017.
- Call volume increases by 25% during the summer months.
- Muskoka is home to a large aging population. In 2016, the most common call types for paramedics were musculoskeletal trauma, cardiac and respiratory problems, and general weakness/illness.
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Senior Communications and Digital Media Advisor
705-721-8010 ext. 3243