NORTH BAY -- Finding more ways to bring health care to those who need it, the Parry Sound EMS Community Paramedic Program is now operating out of the Powassan Fire Hall.

“This way now we’ll have a paramedic in every weekend and every day, seven days a week,” said Krista Hampel a coordinator with the program.

On Monday, two paramedics started working out of the new Powassan hub.

“This office will serve the homebound patients and seniors in the Powassan and East Parry Sound area,” said Parry Sound District EMS manager Frank May.

"It’s to support long-term care patients that are awaiting placements in long-term care."

With nearly $3 million in funding over the next three years through the Ministry of Long Term Care, the program has expanded from two paramedics to seven with hubs in both Powassan and Humphrey.

“In its infancy, the goal was to reduce hospital visits and 911 calls,” said May. “It’s now worked towards supporting people in their homes and assisting elder and seniors to live a healthier life in their home.”

Officials said between wellness clinics and home visits, the program has the capacity to support at least 500 people across the Parry Sound District and reduce pressure on the health care system.

Home visits

“So a home visit is a paramedic would come to your house and it’s usually on average once a month … and they come in and just do a regular check with you,” said Hampel.

“Heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen level, weight, blood sugar if they’re diabetic. At that time if there’s any abnormal findings we’re able to send those readings off to their family physician to prevent an escalation, to prevent a 911 call.”

She said the need for the service is huge, and not just for seniors.

“People of all ages are on our program but the main goal of it is to help individuals stay in their home as long as they can and bring them the services that they require.”

Luc Lauzon, who has been a paramedic for more than 20 years, said it helps bring peace of mind to both patients and families.

“As a paramedic, you spend very little time with the patient," Lauzon said. "This allows you to maybe see some progress or actually spend more time with the person, get to know them. It’s a little more of a personal touch."

Although the hub in Powassan is a new asset, the program has been around for the past six years. In that time, demand has increased, as has the range of services it offers.

"One of the things is wellness clinics in congregate settings for seniors, where there’s seniors apartments we can go in and do monthly wellness clinics, sit down with the individual, do their vitals, check medication compliances, go over their medical history,” said May.

“We also do remote monitoring. We’ve been doing remote monitoring for people throughout the pandemic, as well for people who’ve been diagnosed with COVID and are recovering out of hospital. So it gives us the ability to monitor their vital signs without them having to be in hospital.”