Community Paramedicine has ‘gone really well’ but future unclear

WELLINGTON COUNTY — Although the Community Paramedicine program has been a success, it may continue or be replaced by something else when funding runs out.

“We don’t know what is going to happen after March 31 of 2024. Funding at that point ends and we’ll see what the province intends to do," said Stephen Dewar, Chief and General Manager of the Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service.

"Whether they will extend it, whether they will make it permanent or whether they will try to provide those services some other way."

The program delivers medical services to county residents. In so doing, people stay at home instead of either going to a hospital emergency department or a long term care home.

According to a report to county council, Community Paramedicine is providing service to 475 county residents.

“It is primarily aimed at making sure people get the services they need, hooking them up to what care that they need, to let them stay in their homes and to keep them safe.”

It’s no secret that emergency departments have been overwhelmed with many patients and a lack of staff. This program reduces the number of people using those services.

“And so, secondary to that, it reduces the strain on the emergency department by providing the right care. When people (would need) both emergency departments and long term care homes, people can actually stay in their homes.”

Dewar said the program has been "really well received by the residents of our area."

“We started out and did some studies with McMaster University so that we know that our program is valid. We know that it’s actually making a difference. It’s not just seeming to make a difference.”

Both the challenge faced by the program and the success of it is getting to distant locations to provide medical care.

“One of the things that we are able to do, one of the benefits of our system is that we’re mobile so especially in Wellington County there is a great distance between people’s locations and so being able to be mobile and go out to homes is a challenge but it’s one that we’re really set up to be able to take care of.”

Jesse Gault is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

Supplied photo, GuelphToday.com