The new Forest EMS and OPP Station. May 26, 2017 (Photo by Melanie Irwin)

Lambton paramedicine program expands while awaiting full funding

As efforts continue to secure 100% base funding for a permanent community paramedicine program, Lambton Emergency Medical Services has expanded the service.

A $125,000 grant from the Age-Friendly Community Development Project, approved by Lambton County Council Wednesday, will not only ensure the program runs until next March but will help it grow into more rural areas of the county.

“We’ve moved into areas like Inwood, Thedford, Forest, Mooretown,” said Lambton EMS Manager Steve Pancino. “What we’ve done is we’ve tried to identify areas in the county that don’t have a bricks and mortar primary care facility.”

Lambton EMS Manager Steve Pancino. November 7, 2018 Photo by Melanie Irwin

Lambton EMS Manager Steve Pancino

Pancino said the second step will be pinpointing areas where seniors are already meeting.

“Whether it’s a church group, or there’s one that gets together at the local convenience store. Finding those areas where the seniors are already going to be, rather than setting up somewhere for them to come to us, we’re going to where they are.”

He said the program costs approximately $270,000 a year to operate.

“To date we’ve been able to secure funding for that program from the LHIN [Local Health Integration Network], from partnerships with Bluewater Health and from the ministry. We currently receive about $45,000 in permanent base funding for the program and then, above and beyond that, its been these partnerships.”

Pancino said the service expansion is being done within the current funding envelope.

The program launched in 2017 and connects specially trained paramedics with frequent 911 users.

The increased effort to improve care and guide patients toward other community resources has resulted in a significant drop in 911 calls and emergency room visits.