KAMLOOPS – Clearwater and Blue River are two of 73 rural and remote B.C. communities that will welcome community paramedicine, a program that offers residents enhanced health services from paramedics. Clearwater is receiving one full-time paramedic and Blue River a half-time equivalent.
The program is part of the B.C. government’s plan to enhance primary care service delivery to British Columbians. Under the program, paramedics will provide basic health-care services, within their scope of practice, in partnership with local health-care providers, delivered in non-urgent settings, in patients’ homes or in the community.
“Residents of Clearwater and Blue River are big beneficiaries of this program, which greatly expands the responsibilities of paramedics in rural areas,” said Terry Lake, Health Minister and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA. “The Community Paramedicine Initiative is a key component of our plan to improve access to primary health-care services in rural areas. By building upon the skills and background of paramedics, we are empowering them to give greater access to care for people who live in rural and remote communities, helping patients get the care they need closer to home.”
Community paramedics are expected to be delivering community health services in Interior B.C., including Clearwater and Blue River, in early 2017.
The services provided may include checking blood pressure, assisting with diabetic care, helping to identify fall hazards, medication assessment, post-injury or illness evaluation, and assisting with respiratory conditions. The paramedics will perform assessments requested by the referring health-care professional, and record their findings for the patient’s file. The enhanced role will not replace care provided by health professionals such as nurses, but will complement and support their work.
Initially introduced in the province in 2015 in nine communities, the community paramedicine initiative is now expanding provincewide, including 31 communities in the Interior.
BC Emergency Health Services has been co-ordinating the implementation of community paramedicine with the Ministry of Health, regional health authorities, the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873), the First Nations Health Authority and others.