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Blood-on-board program in Kelowna, Kamloops showing early success, receives $40,000 boost from hospital foundations

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation and Royal Inland Hospital Foundation providing $20,000 each to BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) to support access to blood supply for critical care paramedics in Interior, Okanagan.
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Station 370 paramedics, Mathieu Desfosses and Edward Peters, in Kamloops 

​Trauma patients in the Interior and Okanagan in need of life-saving blood transfusions continue to get timely care they need thanks to a $40,000 boost to BC Emergency Health Services to support a program which grants air ambulance paramedics with full-time access to blood from the Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) and Kamloops’s Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) to support trauma patients. 

Two $20,000 grants – one from the KGH Foundation and one from the RIH Foundation – will be made to the BCEHS Foundation toward the BCEHS-KGH/RIH Prehospital and Transport Blood Transfusion Program which improves patient experiences with access to blood transport programs. This is part of a provincial blood transfusion program that was first launched in 2019.

Funding from these grants will assist with the development of the blood supply to Station 370 in Kamloops from RIH’s Transfusion Medicine Services (TMS) for both scheduled and emergency re-supply. KGH TMS is currently set up to provide emergency re-supply on a as needed basis. BCEHS is providing the remainder of the funding.

Dr. Mike Christian, Chief Medical Officer with BC Emergency Health Services, says: “this is another example of patient-focused innovations.”

“This program is a game-changer as it will allow our critical care paramedics to give trauma patients life-saving blood transfusions as quickly as possible; these are situations when timeliness is crucial,” Dr. Christian says. 

“While the numbers of the program have been lower than anticipated in the Interior and Okanagan, it has added critical capacity for critical care for when patients need it. Partnerships like this throughout British Columbia significantly benefit patient quality of care and we’re so pleased to receive funding from the RIH Foundation and KGH Foundation to expand this to the Interior and Okanagan.” 

Since the blood-on-board program was launched in the Interior and Okanagan in the Summer of 2022, there have been four out-of-hospital transfusions to date, the most recent coming in early March 2023. This innovative program allows emergency-use blood products to be available to hundreds of additional patients if the need were to arise.

“We are excited to be involved in such an innovative program that supports patients in the Interior,” says Melina Moran, Director of Grants Management with KGH Foundation. “The capacity for longer-term benefits is now in place and we’ve seen some initial success which fosters further confidence in the health-care system in our province.” 

Since 2019 when the blood-on-board program was first initiated provincially, there have been 112 patients receiving transfusions, between stations in Richmond (280), Nanaimo (180), and Kamloops (370).

“We are thrilled to support the BCEHS-KGH/RIH Prehospital and Transport Blood Transfusion Program. By ensuring paramedics in our region have around-the-clock access to blood services, regional trauma patients on route to Royal Inland Hospital will receive the medical attention they require much faster; this could make all the difference when saving a life,” says Heidi Coleman, RIH Foundation CEO. 
The blood on board program expanded to the Interior in the summer of 2022, after expanding to Vancouver Island in March 2022. Prior to these regional program launches, pre-hospital blood was not available to critical care paramedic crews based on Vancouver Island, the Interior or Okanagan, and was only available through crews dispatched from Vancouver International Airport. Otherwise, pre-hospital blood access was previously only available to critical care paramedics in the Lower Mainland region.

About 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 BC Patient Transfer Services. BCEHS is supported by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). 

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About Kelowna General Hospital Foundation

Since 1978, the KGH Foundation has worked with a generous community to raise funds to support world-class healthcare close to home for a growing and diverse population in the interior of B.C. Today, the KGH Foundation is the lead fundraising organization for Kelowna General Hospital and its associated facilities, JoeAnna’s House, and Central Okanagan Hospice House.

About Royal Inland Hospital Foundation

Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) Foundation was incorporated in 1983. Its mission is to inspire donors to give, and to build meaningful relationship to support the hospital and the community’s healthcare needs. The RIH Foundation supports this mission through a variety of community fundraising activities including special events, legacy giving and charitable gifts from individuals, corporations and other charitable funding partners. 

Located in Kamloops, RIH is the only tertiary acute care hospital in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap area, providing high-level, specialty medical care. It serves a catchment area of over 225,000 British Columbians. RIH is also an important training centre, including nursing students from Thompson Rivers University, pharmacy residents, and medical students from the University of British Columbia.
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