The communities of Tofino and Ucluelet will work together as one project.
"With a focus on prevention, health promotion and primary care, community paramedicine will help us tailor services to meet the unique needs of rural patients," said Health Minister Terry Lake. "This partnership is a great example of how we are working in collaboration with health care providers and stakeholders to improve the delivery of health care in rural and remote areas of the province."
Under this initiative, paramedics will provide primary care services within their scope of practice to increase access to basic health-care services in non-urgent settings in partnership with local health care providers. The enhanced role is not intended to replace care provided by health professionals such as nurses, but rather to complement and support the work these important professionals do each day.
BCEHS has been coordinating the implementation of community paramedicine in BC with the Ministry of Health, the province's health authorities, and the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873).
Communities in northern BC were announced in April 2015, while those in the Interior were announced in August of the same year. This measured start allows BCEHS to focus on one health authority at a time and to develop the contacts needed in each community to ensure community paramedics will be well-integrated members of the established health care teams.
"This new role in community health is well suited for BC's highly trained paramedics," said Bronwyn Barter, President of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873). "With the community paramedicine program will come enhanced patient care and new full-time career opportunities across the province."
In phase one of the program, BCEHS paramedic unit chiefs will coordinate the specific services which community paramedics, given their training, are able to provide.
It is expected that these paramedics will be delivering community health services in the initial communities, including Cortes Island, Port Hardy and Tofino-Ucluelet early next year. The program will be expanded to additional rural and remote communities across the province beginning in the spring of 2016.
"Community paramedicine is an exciting and innovative program that will help us expand community-based care for our rural and remote communities," said Dr. Brendan Carr, President and CEO of Island Health. "Paramedics are important partners in the health care team and we welcome this new approach."
The Province of British Columbia and BCEHS have committed to creating at least 80 new full-time equivalent positions (FTEs) to support the implementation of community paramedicine programs over the next four years.
"BCEHS is committed to being integrated members of the health sector and communities we serve," said BCEHS Executive Vice President Linda Lupini. "The Community Paramedic Initiative allows us to strengthen our ability to respond to medical emergencies by helping to keep paramedics engaged in rural and remote communities with low call volumes. At the same time, community paramedics will be helping to bridge gaps in health services delivery identified by these communities throughout the province."
The Community Paramedicine Initiative aligns with the recently released Rural Health Services in BC: A policy framework to provide a system of quality care, which was created as a planning document to identify common concerns and policy directions, and will be joined together into a rural health strategy. This strategy will help guide the future of rural health care for British Columbians.
Island Health provides health care to more than 765,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands of the Georgia Strait, and in the mainland communities north of Powell River and south of Rivers Inlet.
BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) is responsible for the delivery and governance of pre-hospital emergency medical care and inter-facility patient transfer services through the BC Ambulance Service and the BC Patient Transfer Network. BCEHS is supported by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA).
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