Community Paramedicine Expands in BC

Health Minister Terry Lake has announced the initial 73 rural and remote BC communities that will welcome community paramedicine, a program offering residents enhanced health services and paramedics more opportunities to provide patient care.

Under this program, paramedics will provide basic health care services within their scope of practice in partnership with local health care providers. Qualified paramedics will visit patients in their homes, providing services as outlined in the care plan developed in collaboration with the referring health care professional or community care team. 

“Community paramedics will focus on prevention, health promotion and the specific primary care needs of the people in these communities,” said Linda Lupini, executive vice-president, BC Emergency Health Services. “This program also allows us to enhance our ability to respond to medical emergencies by offering permanent employment to staff in rural and remote areas of the province.”

Community paramedicine was initially introduced in the province in 2015 in nine prototype communities. The initiative is now expanding provincewide, and will be in place in 31 communities in the Interior, 18 communities in Northern BC, 19 communities on Vancouver Island, and five communities in the Vancouver coastal area this year.

At least 80 new full-time equivalent positions will support the implementation of community paramedicine, as well as augment emergency response capabilities. Positions are starting to be posted across the regional health authorities, beginning with Northern Health and the prototype communities. The selection, orientation and placement process is expected to take about four months.

Community paramedics are expected to start delivering community health services in Northern BC this fall, in the Interior in early 2017, on Vancouver Island and the Vancouver coastal area in the spring of 2017.

Community selection was based on those communities defined as rural, small rural and remote in the Ministry of Health Rural Health Services in BC:  A Policy Framework to Provide a System of Quality Care Policy Paper, and currently served by ambulance stations with part-time staff only, and therefore the most in need of stabilizing paramedic staffing.

The community selection and resourcing model was reviewed and endorsed by the Community Paramedicine Provincial Advisory Committee; executive leads for Northern, Interior and Island Health; the Ministry of Health’s Standing Committee on Health Services & Population; Ambulance Paramedics of BC (Local 873); and First Nations Health Authority.

UBCM is represented on the Provincial Advisory Committee by Galina Durant, Mayor of the District of Stewart, and Marylyn Chiang, Senior Policy Analyst, Environment & Healthy Communities Committee.

BC Emergency Health Services has been co-ordinating the implementation of community paramedicine in BC with the Ministry of Health, regional health authorities, the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873), UBCM, and others.

Community Paramedicine Initiative -- Communities

Island Health region (19 communities):

Tofino; Ucluelet; Cortes Island; Quadra Island; Sayward; Denman Island (incl. Hornby Island); Galiano Island; Mayne Island; Pender Island; Gabriola Island; Port Renfrew; Alert Bay; Port Alice; Port Hardy; Port McNeill; Sointula; Gold River; Zeballos; Tahsis

Northern Health region (20 communities):

Granisle; Southside; Fort St. James; Fraser Lake; Hudson’s Hope; Chetwynd; Tumbler Ridge; Mackenzie: McBride; Valemount; Haida Gwaii; Wells; Houston; Stewart; Atlin; Dease Lake; Kitwanga; Hazelton

Interior Health region (31 communities):

Edgewood; Nakusp; New Denver; Alexis Creek; Creston; Elkford; Sparwood; Field; Golden; Revelstoke; Logan Lake; Keremeos; Kaslo; Riondel; Gold Bridge; Lillooet; Seton Portage; Salmo; Winlaw; Blue River; Clearwater; Princeton; Sicamous; Clinton; Lytton; Fruitvale; Rossland; Lumby; Greenwood; Midway; Anahim Lake

Vancouver Coastal region (5 communities):

Bella Coola; Bella Bella; Madeira Park; Bowen Island; Texada Island

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