News release

New Program Helps Provide Better Health Care for Seniors

Seniors in some nursing homes now have access to enhanced on-site health care from highly trained paramedics, avoiding unnecessary trips to the hospital.

Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald joined representatives from the Emergency Health Services (EHS) and Capital Health today, March 16, to officially launch the Extended Care Paramedic (ECP) program, as part of the province's Better Care Sooner Plan.

"This program is a great example of government working with partners to deliver health care differently," said Ms. MacDonald. "We want seniors to have access to the best care possible from health-care teams so their experience is as quick, safe and comfortable as possible. This is what Better Care Sooner is all about."

The Extended Care Paramedic program offers seniors much of the same care they would receive in an emergency department, delivered by paramedics at their bedside. This improves the level of comfort for the patient, and reduces the need for non-emergency hospital transports.

"When I injured myself recently getting out of bed, I received wonderful care from a paramedic and the staff here at Glades, instead of having to spend hours in the hospital waiting to see a doctor or a nurse," said Glades Lodge resident Gertrude Clarke. "My experience was very positive and I really appreciated the option to be treated for my injury in my home."

As part of the program, extended-care paramedics assess and treat residents with the help of nursing home staff, family physicians, Capital Health and EHS resources. In non-emergency situations, nursing-home residents receive a plan for follow-up care at home, or transport to the hospital at a later time, if required. If a patient requires emergency care, it will be provided immediately.

Since the program began in February, 72 per cent of patients have been successfully assessed and treated at nursing homes.

"EHS paramedics have the education and tools necessary to help solve problems and provide solutions for our health-care system," said Darrell Bardua, extended care paramedicine senior operations paramedic. "This program focuses on nursing-home patients and bringing more services directly to them in their home, with a variety of other benefits to the health-care system, such as reducing wait times and making other paramedic units available for emergency responses in our communities."

The program is delivered in partnership with Capital Health initiatives that are delivering enhanced primary care to residents in long term care facilities.

"By enabling physicians, facility staff, and other health-care professionals like EHS paramedics to collaborate on resident care and respond to patient needs, Capital Health is delivering on the province's commitment to provide better health care, sooner," said Dr. Barry Clarke, district medical director, integrated continuing care, Capital Health.

The program is available in 15 nursing homes in Halifax Regional Municipality in the Capital Health district.

"We are looking at ways to use the skills of paramedics in other communities across the province in a way that benefits the particular needs of that area," said Ms. MacDonald.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Seniors in some nursing homes now have access to enhanced on-site health care from highly trained paramedics, avoiding unnecessary trips to the hospital.

Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald says the program is a great example of government working with partners to deliver health care differently. She says that is what Better Care Sooner is all about.

The Extended Care Paramedic program, delivered in partnership with Emergency Health Services and Capital Health, offers seniors much of the same care they would receive in an emergency department, delivered by paramedics at their bedside.

Since the program began in February, 72 per cent of patients have been successfully assessed and treated at their nursing homes.

The program is available in 15 nursing homes in Halifax Regional Municipality.

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Media Contacts:

Chrissy Matheson
Health and Wellness 902-424-3976 E-mail:
Krista Beck
Emergency Health Services 888-255-6606 E-mail: