Sooke and Port Renfrew will soon have their own community paramedics.
“We are in the hiring process right now,” said Nancy Kotani, chief transformation officer for B.C. Emergency Health Services, who hopes to have a community paramedic, or CP, working in Sooke and Port Renfrew by this summer.
The community paramedicine program was introduced in B.C. in 2016, with hopes of improving health service in rural and remote communities and to reduce the number of 911 calls.
So far, Kotani said the program has been implemented in 80 B.C. communities and helps approximately 700 patients.
“It’s been going just great,” said Kotani. “Where we see the biggest impact is providing a variety of health services and programs, including home visits to elderly people living in the community.”
Community paramedics are orienting their skills to be used in a non-emergency setting to help prevent people from having to use 911.
“We’ve found that when people receive a regular visit from a CP, they are more confident about living at home, and how to manage their own conditions and are hospitalized less,” Kotani said.
Rachelle Cole, a CP in Ucluelet, agreed, adding she loves being a CP because in a small town almost every call she takes is for someone she knows, so this position allows her to have a positive impact on those patient’s lives on a “regular and non emergent basis.”
“The program was received with open arms from its inception out here on the coast, and as such we are a solid piece of the health care puzzle,” Cole said. “Our time is valued and accessed to its capacity with a variety of exciting initiatives, learning and growing moments and fabulous opportunities to make positive impacts in people’s lives on a daily basis.”
She said CPs provide an extra set of eyes and more individual care, which helps create a healthier community.
“It’s a win when residents are able to remain healthy, active and supported in the community, the community is strong and diverse. And I am very proud to play my small role in helping where ever I can,” Cole said.
Her goals as a CP is to expand her outreach, to be of more value, and to give back to her community, which has provided her a safe place for her and her family to call home.
“This program has been a fabulous opportunity and I am very fortunate to have been a part of it from the beginning. I’m very proud of the program and how it has evolved in my community,” Cole said.
“You can never measure the value of a smile that comes from the comfort people feel when they know that their needs are being met, and that they are cared for.”
CPs also focus on community outreach and awareness, health and self-care promotion, wellness clinics and wellness checks.
“People are able to manage and live more successfully in their communities which is what we would all like to see happen,” Kotani said.
“The program has been very well received, and I think the biggest advantage is that CP’s can kind of help fill the gaps in community health resources, which in turn will improve access to primary health care services.”
A part-time CP was previously hired Port Renfrew, but resigned for personal reasons and the position is now up for grabs again.
This will be the first CP hired for Sooke, and it will be a full-time position.