It takes a community approach to care for community members sometimes, and that’s something that’s currently being done in Wynyard.

In December, Home First and the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Community Paramedicine program in Wynyard formed a partnership to assist a client who lived at home with his family but required two-person transfers.

RR-2015-04-08-rural-paramedicine “The paramedics in our community have helped this undertaking to proceed from day one,” noted Kelly Tokarchuk, Manager of Home Care East, who is based in Wadena. “Without the involvement and engagement of our paramedics, we would not have been able to provide support for this family.”

“The concept of Community Paramedicine means that EMS professionals are partnering with communities to link traditional EMS services with community care,” Sherri Solar, manager of pre-hospital emergency medical services for Saskatoon Health Region.  “Community Paramedicine enables EMS professionals to build on their scope of practice, focus on community prevention and wellness, and work collaboratively with healthcare professionals and community leaders to assist in the delivery of care in a variety of services, such as public health, community health, home care, long term care, palliative care, acute and emergency room care.  With local paramedics providing the service, Home First and Midway Ambulance Care Ltd provided the financial backing to cover the Community Paramedicine care, and to increase Home Care services in the home.”

“The Home Care nurse working with the family has assisted with transfers as well,” Tokarchuk said. “She keeps this within her normal schedule, which in essence allows us to run with no additional cost for that time.”

It’s not a perfect system, but it’s functioning mainly because the family is very devoted to keeping their loved one at home as long as possible, and they are active in the care for this client.

“When we are unable to provide the second person to assist in the lift, either through Home Care or through Community Paramedicine, the family is stepping into be the second person assist,” Tokarchuk explained.

Tokarchuk continues to look at ways to decrease their reliance on family assistance for the lifts.

Financially, caring for this client appropriately in the community has saved the system some dollars. But more importantly, it has allowed this client to stay at home, where they want to be.

“There are no dollar amounts or words that can express the value of extended time at home for the client and family,” Tokarchuk feels.

The collaboration has also strengthened the bonds among the health care team in Wynyard.

“Community Paramedicine has allowed the paramedics of Midway Ambulance to grow professionally and personally,” said Kelly Prime of Midway Ambulance Care. “Paramedics are the first to respond to any type of medical emergency and are proactive in the protection services of their communities. Community Paramedicine has changed that role to a point by allowing paramedics to collaborate and participate with other health professionals and teams.”

This shift in roles has led communities and allied health care professionals and teams to see paramedics in a new light.

“We are no longer ‘ambulance drivers’ or ‘EMTs,’ but professionals who have abilities and expertise in medicine that can allow communities and health care systems to succeed,” Prime noted. “Paramedics collaborating and practicing medicine alongside nurses, doctors, care aides, pharmacists and other health care professionals can truly make a positive difference in a patient-first health care delivery model. The paramedics of Midway Ambulance feel like they are beginning to be accepted as part of the health care team.”

“These initiatives are working,” Tokarchuk stated. “We are starting to really address caring for our community members through a community approach.  I continue to look forward to working with these partners in  meeting our community and client’s needs, and allowing seniors to be at their home as long as possible.”