New paramedic pilot program gets financial boost from City of Kawartha Lakes

Starting this spring, a new three-month paramedic community outreach pilot program will launch in the City of Kawartha Lakes.

The goal of the program is to reduce patient re-admission at Ross Memorial Hospital (RMH) in Lindsay.

“We want to make sure that the transition from hospital to home goes smoothly,” said Sara Johnston, commander of quality assurance with Kawartha Lakes Paramedics. “If there’s a gap in service for those discharged, they’re not left to struggle independently at home.”

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Back in July, RMH announced it was struggling with patient overcapacity. It was operating 199 beds with only 158 funded. Officials then pointed to the number of beds that were being used by patients who were being re-admitted or patients who were waiting for transition to long-term care.

How the pilot program will aim to reduce re-admissions is by having a paramedic visit the home of a patient who is deemed high risk to need to go back to the hospital.

“They would be looking at how the person was doing from a vital sign perspective, their level of awareness, level of cognitive ability and making sure their environment was safe to live in,” added Johnston.

“So they are compliant with their medications and there is no major fall hazards.”

Watch: Paramedics on the job

The program came about after a community stakeholder meeting which identified seniors, who make up a third of the population in the municipality, as the demographic which sees the most re-admissions.

“A lot of our seniors are capable of living on their own, but they need some assistance,” said City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service Insp. Tom Hickey. “They don’t have family around or supports. As they start to decline, they can’t keep up with those things. They spiral and we end up involved with them.”

One paramedic will be scheduled five days a week to make home visits.

The municipality is funding the program at a cost of $25,000. The money is in the 2019 budget, which was approved by council earlier this week.

“They did the concept to apply to the LHIN, because that’s where it should come from and were turned down twice.” said mayor Andy Letham.  “So, we stepped up to the plate.”



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