The City of Greater Sudbury's paramedic services hope two new programs can keep elderly patients healthy and avoid hospital readmissions due to chronic conditions.
The Transitions Care program, which received $300,000 in funding from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care in November 2014, launched Jan. 12, 2015, and already helps 90 patients throughout Greater Sudbury.
Three paramedics are assigned to the program, and schedule regular visits with patients who have been discharged from Health Sciences North.
Jennifer Amyotte, the commander of community paramedicine, said the program is unique in Ontario due to its close ties to the hospital, and constant communication through an internal electronic system.
Amyotte said the Transition Care program changes paramedics' roles to preventative care, rather than reactive care.
“We're already mobile, we already have good assessment skills, we already work understanding orders,” she said.
Garry Lauzon, one of three paramedics assigned to the program, said most of their patients have either chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or heart failure.
Patients can schedule visits with Lauzon or his colleagues if they are feeling unwell.
The community paramedics perform regular bloodwork and other tests on patients, and relay the results to their family physicians.
Community paramedic Rebecca Poulin is responsible for another program that also received funding from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care — $102,900 – in November 2014.
The Health Promotion program, which Poulin expects to launch in April, will focus on prevention.
Poulin will follow a group of older adults and help set goals to help them live healthier lifestyles.
The program will also give patients access to remote health monitoring equipment, which allows them to relay their vital signs from their own homes.
Poulin said the focus on prevention is a natural transition for paramedics.
“It's something we've always done when we have time,” she said.
If she picks up a patient in Capreol, for example, she has a lot of time to talk with the patient on the way to the hospital, and go over their medications and lifestyle.
“A lot of times were are the first point of access for these patients,” she said.
The Transitions Care and Health Promotion programs are both 10-month pilots.
If successful, they could become mainstays for community care in Sudbury.