“When I first heard of the program, I never dreamt we’d be part of it,” says Marion Pope of the Region’s community paramedicine pilot that launched on April 13. The pilot is meant to keep residents in two of the city’s long-term care homes off ambulance stretchers and in their own beds when they need non-emergency treatment.

Les Pope was the first resident at Luther Special Care Home to benefit from the pilot.

Les and Marion Pope

Les and Marion Pope. Les was the first resident at Luther Special Care Home to benefit from the Region’s community paramedicine pilot project.

On Wednesday, April 15, Marion came to the home to have lunch with her husband, only to find him in bed unresponsive. She immediately notified the nurse on staff, who took Les’ vitals and suggested the pilot’s on-call paramedic be called.

“When Collin (the nurse) mentioned that the paramedic was an option, I was quite excited,” says Marion. “I knew that Collin, in taking Les’ vitals and in examining him, had a sense of how urgent it was. I felt totally confident in having a paramedic come and assess Les where he was. No one wants to go to emergency if they don’t have to.”

The paramedic, Angela Graham, arrived within half an hour and spent the next two and a half hours treating Les.

“She was excellent,” says Les. “She knew what was happening right away, and she put me at ease.”

Marion says she and her husband are pleased the paramedic took the time to discuss Les’ medical history with him, and was able to coordinate his care with the nurse on staff and his physician. In doing so, Angela was able to get a rush on a blood test that had been taken the previous day, expediting Les’ treatment and preventing him from needing to be transported by ambulance to the hospital.

“The results were indicative of dehydration,” says Marion. “By that time, the paramedic was prepared to give him IV fluids.”

“She did not rush,” Marion adds. “Les was her first priority, and I really appreciated that. Les went to breakfast in a wheelchair, but because of the program, he walked with his walker to supper.”

As part of the pilot, Angela was able to follow up with Les on the following day to ensure that no further care was required.

“Residents do not always do well when they have to leave their homes,” says Angela. “Their routine is disrupted, and they are exposed to infection in hospital. You will quite often see simple, treatable conditions worsen. Also, when a resident goes to the hospital they incur monetary charges. The community paramedic pilot is free. The residents receive timely, one-on-one, uninterrupted treatment and repeated assessment.”

“But it’s not just the cost,” says Les. “It’s life-saving. The program works.”

See the www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/ReadyEveryDay website for more information about 90 Days of Innovation: Ready Every Day.