The CP@clinic initiative, which has operated at Surrey’s Ted Kuhn supportive housing towers in partnership with Options Community Services and McMaster University since December 2021, sees a team of community paramedics host a clinic for tower residents once a week. Patients can schedule appointments or drop in to discuss health matters with the paramedics, who can either address the patient issues at the clinic or refer them to other health-care services. Many of the patients have mobility challenges or other barriers to care, so having the clinic on-site has improved their access to health care.
“It made quite a difference for me,” says Ted Kuhn resident Christine Long. “It helped me feel good about my health, which wasn’t in good shape at all. And the paramedics were very helpful … Without the clinic, I don’t know if I would have made it.”
A report from McMaster University’s Community Paramedicine Research Team, which piloted the program in Ontario before expanding it to B.C., found significant benefits to the health-care system as well. The one-year study period of the report, between December 2021 and December 2022, found there were nearly 10 fewer 911 calls per month to the Ted Kuhn Towers compared to before the clinic’s opening – or 38 per cent fewer 911 calls compared to similar supportive residential buildings without a clinic. The report estimated the clinic has saved the B.C. health care system nearly $450,000 in costs as a result.
“The impact of the program is evident,” says BCEHS Director of Community and Indigenous Programs Amy Poll. “From the smiles on the clients’ faces to the stories they happily share about how one of the amazing community paramedics has made an impact on their lives … It warms my heart to see the relationships the community paramedics have developed and the trust the clients have for them. The realization and understanding that come from being able to take the time to get to know each other brings down the walls and serves as great learnings for all of our paramedics.”
Paramedic Practice Leader Stuart Woolley agrees the clinic has seen positive outcomes. “Patients have reported feeling more comfortable and supported in their care, and housing support managers have noted that the program has had a positive impact on the health and well-being of their residents,” he says. “This feedback highlights the program's ability to meet the needs of the community and provide patient-centered care.”
BC Emergency Health Services continues to evaluate the results of the study to understand what it will mean for future deployment in B.C.
Learn more about community paramedicine: