Funding is coming from all sides to expand the County of Simcoe’s Paramedicine program.
One-time funding of $456,008 was received in November 2020 through the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), and the Central LHIN through three separate funding announcements.
The funding is intended to support COVID-19 activities, vaccine administration, existing Community Paramedicine program expansion and paramedicine education development.
“Perhaps one of the positives to come out of this pandemic is the extension to the paramedicine program,” said Wasaga Beach Deputy Mayor Sylvia Bray. “I think the in-home visits to the seniors will make a difference to allow seniors to stay in their homes for a little bit longer. It’s a great program that’s very cost-effective.”
“It’s exciting that Simcoe County was able to pilot it,” she added.
About $200,000 of the new funding is earmarked for paramedic wellness clinics in homeless shelters that have been moved into hotels and motels across Simcoe County.
About $196,000 is being used to expand the paramedicine program to help alternate level of care (ALC) patients within the Orillia area; the goal is to keep people out of the hospital and in their homes. About $109,000 will go toward swabbing and vaccine support programs, as well as hiring an in-house educator.
General manager Jane Sinclair said she had made a delegation to the minister of health Christine Elliott the previous day.
“She was impressed with our ability to mobilize our staff in different ways,” said Sinclair.
Sinclair said she had asked Elliott about the roll out for vaccines for paramedics.
“Paramedic services have been deemed as a priority in terms of vaccination, however with the supply to date, our paramedics have not been vaccinated en mass,” said Sinclair. “We have been working through our long-term care homes and vaccine clinic and about a dozen or so paramedics were vaccinated.”
“We are advocating very strongly when additional vaccine supply resumes to our region, that our front-line paramedics be considered top priority given their exposure,” she said.
The County of Simcoe’s Community Paramedicine program consists of three main functions: referrals, home visits, and frequent caller follow-ups.
Referrals connects patients with health and community services based on issues identified by paramedics during 911 calls. Home visiting currently provides at-home chronic disease management. Staff who are out in the community perform the visits between emergency calls.