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York Region paramedics make house calls as part of study
Nov. 4, 2016
By Heather Butts

Stephen Knight welcomes a paramedic into his home every three months.

It's a check-up in the comfort of his kitchen, as part of a study in York Region called “Expanding Paramedicine in the Community.”

"It’s kind of different than going to see a doctor,” the Stouffville resident says. “I'm a typical male. I won't go unless I’m basically dying."

The program is designed to evaluate the impact of paramedics and family health teams working closely together. It means paramedics do house calls.

"We’re not doctors by any stretch of the imagination, but the eyes, ears, and hands of family doctor,” says Steve Lucas, a community care paramedic. “We report to them and they make a treatment decision from there."

The program began two years ago and is offered to people who suffer from diabetes, congestive heart failure, or severe respiratory problems. There are 300 patients in the study.

"This is really about, can a paramedic provide active healthcare to maintain health and wellbeing, versus just responding to 911 when an emergency happens to be identified,” says Norm Barrette, chief of York Region Paramedic Senior Services.

"Half of our patients are receiving care of a community care paramedic and the other half are receiving standard care, just from family physician."

Early results show 35 per cent fewer calls were made to 911 by patients receiving community paramedic care and of those patients who did have to go to the hospital their stay was 25 per cent shorter than the patients who were just being seen by their family doctor.

"If we can get them to recognize their symptoms early enough, we can get treatment started before it becomes a much greater problem,” says Lucas.

Knight is proof of that. During a test by Lucas, the paramedic noticed some abnormalities.  The results were immediately sent to the family doctor, who sent him to a specialist.

Knight didn't have a heart attack, but did need triple bypass surgery.

"Had I not had the conversation with Steve, I would not have gone into the doctor,” he says. “I would have continued in the same situation I was in, and basically I was a ticking time bomb to go off."

The complete findings from this study are expected in the new year, but paramedics are confident this program will continue and may even expand.

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