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A provincial service focused on patient care and the patient journey

Learn more about how the Provincial Patient Transfer Strategic Operation Committee at BC Emergency Health Services is addressing patient transfer issues across the province and plays a critical role in responding to COVID-19 in B.C.
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​Have you heard of the Patient Transfer Services (PTS) team at BC Emergency Health Services? 

Did you know the PTS team provide the following services every hour of every day across the province? 

  1. Transferring patients to a hospital or other health facility that provides a higher level of care, within BC
  2. Repatriating patients from hospitals within and outside of BC, back to their home community hospitals.
Ensuring patients have access to care regardless of location

A few years ago, the Provincial Patient Transfer Strategic Operation Committee (PPTSOC) was formed by PTS to improve inter-health authority relationships and provincial policies while keeping the patient at the forefront. 

“The PPTSOC has evolved from humble beginnings when BCEHS leadership brought Health Authority stakeholders together to address patient transport issues. This provincial collaboration has benefited the people of BC as we respectfully work together to develop transport solutions, create cross-boundary policies and, in the face of a global pandemic, ensure access to services for all our residents regardless of where they live.” - Teresa O’Callaghan, Executive Director, Regional Access and Flow, Hospital Medicine, Fraser Health 
Working together to overcome the challenges of COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, the committee was ready to rise to the many challenges it brought, thanks to well-established relationships and a collaborative mindset. Members jumped into action and began meeting daily in a provincial emergency operation center role to review and discuss capacity and transport of COVID-19 positive patients.

The committee also created a Surge Response Plan to protect the province’s most needed resources (namely critical care beds and high-acuity transfers), limit the strain on our health care system and provide essential care for high-acuity COVID-19 patients. The plan emphasizes the need to transport rural and remote COVID-19 positive patients early in the onset of the disease course and to closely monitor the province for potential outbreaks so that BCEHS could redistribute resources accordingly. 

“In the age of COVID-19, it is more important than ever that BCEHS and its Health Authority partners have a venue to coordinate a collective response to the challenges posed by the pandemic. The mobilization of the Major Incident Rapid Response Team (MIRRT) to support the Cariboo-Chilcotin during the recent Phase II surge is just one example of us collaborating to better serve the citizens of our province.” - Brent Hobbs, Director, Patient Transportation Services, Interior Health 
Transforming the approach for rural and remote communities 

Another element of the surge plan is a community cohort algorithm which allows COVID-19 patients from rural/remote communities to stay at cohorts (frequently hotels) located closer to higher-level of care hospitals. This algorithm was developed with a strong focus on cultural sensitivity, particularly for Indigenous people where removal from community and family has a particularly devastating historical context. A key component of best practice includes the provision of culturally safe care that respects individual customs, values and beliefs of the First Nations peoples and communities served by the First Nations Health Authority.

This response plan then became the basis for a provincial government announcement of the Rural and Remote Framework. Due to this framework, and with a goal of ensuring equitable access to care for all British Columbians, the government increased BC Ambulance resources by 55 ground ambulances and five air resources to be temporarily activated across the province up to March 31, 2021. 

“The Patient Transfer Service should not be looked at as a BCEHS service but a provincial service. It’s made up of physicians, paramedics, nurses, call takers, executives, access leaders, dispatchers, administrative staff and more. One large team that focuses on patient care and the patient journey. The collaboration between all these organizations has been amazing and we look forward to fostering this important partnership in the months and years to come.” - Don Elzinga, Director, Patient Transfer Services, BCEHS

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