Additional EMS costing Chatham-Kent $40K a month

Chatham-Kent ambulance (Photo by Allanah Wills)

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a hefty financial impact on Chatham-Kent’s paramedic services.

According to a report coming to council Monday night, the service level increase is expected to cost $40,000 per month.

“The demands, both clinically and logistically, for paramedic services have grown significantly since the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic,” read the report. “This pandemic has presented Chatham-Kent Emergency Medical Services with some unique and new challenges for clinical responses, safety preparation, logistical structure, and quality assurance.”

The direct effects of the virus have caused an overall need for an increased level of frontline support.

Operational supervisors have been transitioned from working as part of a two-member crew on an ambulance to working in an emergency response vehicle.

“The operational supervisors are available to respond to major incidents to provide scene oversight and available to provide medical response to low acuity patient calls and when ambulance availability is reduced,” stated the report. “The operational supervisor would also be available to perform administrative and supportive duties increased from COVID-19.”

The operational supervisor shift will be backfilled by a primary care paramedic. No additional ambulances have been added to the fleet as part of the COVID-19 increase but a support vehicle has been added to assist the existing ambulances on duty.

The local increase in service is expected to last until the provincial emergency declaration ends or when it is re-evaluated after 90 days.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has been notified of the financial impact the pandemic is causing. Previous funding of $80 million was announced by the provincial government to go towards ambulance and paramedic services across Ontario. However, the report states that there is currently no confirmation of funding to Chatham-Kent.

Additional impacts that COVID-19 will have on Chatham-Kent are being tracked and will be reported to council in the future for funding options.