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Paramedics to make house calls for seniors

Pilot project brings health care home
County of Simcoe Paramedics will start making house calls to some seniors in Ramara. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

Specially trained paramedics will soon start making scheduled house calls to some seniors in Ramara Township.

A new pilot project being launched by County of Simcoe Paramedics on April 18 is part of a council-supported increase in targeted response. 

Two full-time paramedics received seven weeks of enhanced training on chronic disease management to prepare for their new role.

Ninety seniors have been identified as eligible recipients for the valuable, non-emergency care.

"The whole goal is to keep these people in their homes and to try to decrease emergency department visits and 911 calls," said Deputy Chief Merideth Morrison, who oversees performance, quality and development for the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services.

The average patient age is 72 and all suffer from chronic disease - congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive lung disease or diabetes.

The pilot project, part of the Community Paramedicine Program, will see paramedics use their skills as emergency responders in a new way. 

The home care will fill down time during slow call periods in Ramara while giving seniors much needed care where they're most comfortable.    

"We're trying to take the burden away from the elderly patients and bring the care to their homes," said Morrison. "There's certainly research out there that shows people would prefer to stay in their homes and get the care they need instead of having to travel to emergency departments or family physicians because transportation for the elderly can be quite a challenge."

Morrison says some seniors lack family support and for working families, doctors appointments for elderly parents can be tough. 

Home visits will be re-booked in the event of emergency calls and it's hoped the service will one day be more widespread.  

"If the pilot goes well we are hopeful that we can expand it throughout the County in similar type of areas," said Morrison. 

The Ministry of Health and Long-term Care invested $6 million for programs across the province in 2014 which helped roll out Community Paramedicine Programs. 

That funding was set to end last week but Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins said the programs would continue. 


Sue Sgambati

About the Author: Sue Sgambati

Sue has had a 30-year career in journalism working for print, radio and TV. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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