Province increases paramedic funding across Eastern Ontario, except L&A County

The Ontario Government is launching new 9-1-1 models of care to now cover 33 municipalities across the province. This model mirrors a program already in place with Frontenac Paramedic Services.

The Regional Paramedic Program of Eastern Ontario, which includes Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services, Lennox and Addington Paramedic Service, and Frontenac Paramedic Services, as well as others across the region, will see palliative care patients calling 9-1-1 having the option to be treated on-scene for pain and symptom management, including pain or dyspnea, hallucinations or agitation, terminal congested breathing, and nausea or vomiting, according to a release from MPP Daryl Kramp’s office. Following treatment on-scene, the patients will then have the option for paramedics to coordinate the patient’s follow-up care directly with the patient’s primary palliative care provider or with a local hospice for further treatment and wrap-around care.

The Frontenac Paramedic Services has been providing this extended care since February 2021. Ontario Government funding at that time has allowed the Community Paramedic Service to provide diagnostic procedures, assessments, testing, routine monitoring, and medical treatments in the comfort of people’s own homes.

“This is a tremendous step forward in personalizing care,” said MPP Kramp. “It will help those who need care immediately and also help preserve hospital beds for those needing to be admitted.”

According to the provincial government, the new models of care ensure paramedics have more options to provide safe and appropriate treatment for patients while helping to protect hospital capacity as the province continues to respond to the third wave of COVID-19.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen more than ever how critical it is for patients to receive timely and effective care – when and where they need it,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As Ontario’s hospitals face unprecedented capacity pressures during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, these new models of care will enable our world-class paramedics to support our most vulnerable patients in the most appropriate setting, while avoiding unnecessary emergency department visits.”

Doug Socha, chief of Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services says their trained personnel are ready.

“We are ready and eager to participate in this new innovative model of care,” he said. “All paramedics have been trained specifically in palliative care, and will be working closely with palliative care teams to offer these patients the support in their homes. Under our prior model the only transport option was to the emergency department. This new model of care will have paramedics consider additional on-scene medications and other supportive measures in an effort to avoid the emergency department, while developing a follow-up care plan.”

Lennox and Addington County Paramedic Services chief Mark Schjerning agrees with his neighbour. “This will make a big difference for people who need help right away,” he said.

The Warden of Lennox and Addington, however, is taking issue with the way the pilot program will not be benefiting his County.

“County Council passed a resolution in late March 2021 asking the Minister of Long-Term Care to provide funding for Lennox and Addington’s Community Paramedic Program,” Warden Ric Bresee said in a statement. “The Ministry recently announced funding to expand Community Paramedics to Long-Term Care in order to meet the needs of the targeted-LTC related population. At the time of the announcement, Lennox and Addington County did not have a community paramedic program and therefore was not eligible to apply. Since that time, Lennox and Addington County has in fact established a community paramedicine program.”

He provided the following infographic to illustrate the fund dispersion, including the fact that Lennox and Addington has received none.

Image via L&A County.

“This funding would allow us to provide Lennox and Addington County residents with the same level of service as people residing in our neighbouring municipalities,” said Bresee, who also serves as Mayor of Loyalist Township. “We have reached out to the Ministry and our MPP and have not received a response to our request. We are now seeking the public’s support and encourage our residents in Lennox and Addington County to contact MPP Daryl Kramp and Minister Fullerton about this important service for our community.”

“We believe it is essential that the public is aware of the inequities in the funding of the community paramedicine program and that Lennox and Addington County’s vulnerable residents who are waiting to enter Long-Term Care are placed at such a disadvantage,” Bresee concluded.

For more information on the Regional Paramedic Program of Eastern Ontario, visit their website. Learn more about community paramedicine on the Frontenac County website.

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