Medical option considered

Utilization of existing resources could help bolster health care in communities like Enderby

Utilization of existing resources could help bolster health care in communities like Enderby.

The provincial government is currently considering the possibility of expanding duties for paramedics in towns where physicians are limited.

“We have individuals who can do much more than just transport (patients),” said Mayor Howie Cyr.

Cyr believes that beyond taking people in medical crisis to the hospital, paramedics could possibly check in on people after they have been injured or require some immediate attention at home.

“They have a lot of training,” he said.

“The government is suggesting it put a pot of money out there for the program.”

However, while Cyr is optimistic about expanding paramedics’ focus, he insists there is still a need to address the shortage of physicians in Enderby and elsewhere in the Interior.

“They (paramedics) are not a replacement but a resource that can be used to a greater extent,” he said.

B.C. Emergency Health Services, which oversees paramedics, says it’s well-positioned to help improve local health care services.

“Community paramedicine will be particularly valuable in rural and remote areas where there are few other health care providers available,” states the agency.

“Local paramedics will benefit from enhanced job opportunities and stable employment while helping to address unmet health care needs in smaller communities.”

BCEHS says paramedics might provide home support to seniors and others with specific health care needs, reducing the need for these patients to access a physician or the hospital.

Paramedics might also provide coverage in a local clinic, urgent care centre, or emergency department.

“BCEHS will be working with its partners to identify projects over the coming months,” it states.

“The concepts being considered cover a range of health services and may involve partnerships with local governments, health authorities and others.  By the spring 2015, our aim is to have the initial start-up work completed and have a couple of projects ready to launch in rural and remote areas of B.C.”