Luther Special Care Home is one of two long term care homes in Saskatoon participating in a paramedicine pilot project that started March 9, 2015.

The pilot is intended to deliver enhanced non-emergency and emergency medical services to residents at Luther Special Care Home and Porteous Lodge, with the aim of allowing residents to remain at the homes instead of being transferred to hospital. The pilot project is part of Saskatoon Health Region’s effort to to reduce patient loads at Saskatoon’s three hospitals.

In the past three months, 200 residents from Saskatoon’s 30 long-term care homes were taken by ambulance to the Region’s hospital emergency departments. While some of these visits were the result of medical emergencies (e.g., heart attack, stroke), many others resulted in routine transfers for non-emergency procedures that could have been treated by paramedics at the residents’ bedside.

Although each long-term care facility in the city employs highly skilled healthcare professionals such as registered nurses, they are not always able to provide onsite treatment to residents. With the launch of the pilot project, one paramedic from MD Ambulance will be available to perform geriatric assessments at the pilot sites to determine if residents can be treated onsite (e.g., intravenous treatment for low blood sugar) or need to be transported by ambulance to the hospital. An additional paramedic, for a total of two, will be made available by the end of March from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

“This is an opportunity for us to see if faster assessment and appropriate intervention can keep people out of our emergency departments,” says Rod MacKenzie, Director of Rural Integration, Emergency Medical Services and Acute Care Access Line, Saskatoon Health Region.

“It’s much better for the resident,” he continues. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to take someone to hospital by ambulance and have them wait for care they can just as easily receive in the comfort of their own homes.”

The Region’s pilot is based on a model created in Nova Scotia called the Extended Care Paramedic (ECP) Program, which reports that after 41 weeks of implementation, ECPs responded to nearly 600 nursing home calls. Of these calls, 73 per cent of residents were treated on site instead of taken to hospital.

MacKenzie says the goal for the Region’s pilot is to decrease the need for ambulance transport from the pilot sites by 25 per cent within the next three months, as well as to prevent future emergency department visits by having the paramedics follow up with residents post-treatment.

“It’s meant to develop a long-term relationship with the client and to monitor their health over time,” says MacKenzie, adding that the process is an interprofessional initiative that will involve physicians and nurse practitioners to help identify opportunities and address challenges.

Follow this link to view an article about one of the first times the new procedure was put into practice.

Luther Place Outlook

PO Box 279
408 McTavish Street
Outlook, SK  S0L 2N0
Phone: (306) 867-9955
Fax: (306) 867-9797

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