Enhanced health services coming to rural Interior Health communities

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - A program offering paramedicine to rural residents around the province is expanding to include 31 Interior Health communities, according to the provincial Ministry of Health.

Paramedics will provide basic health-care services in partnership with local health-care providers. Services offered through the program include checking blood pressure, assisting with diabetic care, medication assessments, post-injury or illness evaluation and assisting with respiratory conditions.

The program is not intended to replace care provided by health professionals such as nurses, but is aimed at complementing and supporting those professionals.

"The community paramedicine initiative is a key component of our plan to improve access to primary health-care services in rural B.C.,” Health Minister Terry Lake says in a release. "By building upon the skills and background of paramedics, we are empowering them to expand access to care for people who live in rural and remote communities, helping patients get the care they need closer to home."

The program was introduced in nine B.C. communities last year and will now expand to more than 70 communities. It is estimated at least 80 new full-time equivalent positions will be needed to support the program. 

The program is expected to be up and running in the Interior Health region by early 2017. Among the 31 Interior Health communities set to be part of the program are Clearwater, Clinton, Keremeos, Lillooet, Logan Lake, Lumby, Lytton and Sicamous.

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