The Ontario government is launching new 9-1-1 models of care to now cover 33 municipalities across the province. These new models of care will ensure paramedics have more options to provide safe and appropriate treatment for patients while helping to protect hospital capacity as the province continues to respond to the third wave of COVID-19.
Currently, paramedics are required to bring 9-1-1 patients to overcrowded hospital emergency departments, even when there are other appropriate care and treatment options available in the community. Under the innovative patient care model pilots, eligible palliative care patients and those experiencing mental health and addictions challenges can receive appropriate care by the paramedic directly or in the community as appropriate. The patient will remain in ultimate control of the care they receive and can at any time request to be taken to the emergency department.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen more than ever how critical it is for patients to receive timely and effective care – when and where they need it,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said. “As Ontario’s hospitals face unprecedented capacity pressures during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, these new models of care will enable our world-class paramedics to support our most vulnerable patients in the most appropriate setting, while avoiding unnecessary emergency department visits.”
In York Region’s model, palliative care patients dialing 9-1-1 will have the option to be treated on-scene for pain and symptom management by trained paramedics who may administer medications. If they agree, patients will be referred for follow-up care with their primary palliative care team. The Central Home and Community Care Support Services Palliative Care Network (under the Central Ontario Health region) and the Central East Prehospital Care Program are partnering with York Region on this initiative. This project will allow paramedics to be a part of a Community Palliative Care model within the municipality.
“On behalf of York Regional Council and The Regional Municipality of York, I extend my greatest appreciation to the Government of Ontario for their ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of our residents,” York’s CEO Wayne Emmerson said. “As our communities continue to grow, new and innovative models of patient care allows us to meet the changing needs of our communities, while allowing dignity and choice in end-of-life care.”
Each pilot project will be in place for one year, after which it will be evaluated to assess outcomes, identify where program adjustments may be needed, and how to implement new models of care throughout the province.