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Helping Palliative patients get emergency treatment in their own homes

Helping Palliative patients get emergency treatment in their own homes

The Hamilton Paramedic Service is participating in a province-wide pilot of a new Models of Care program. The “treat and refer” model ensures Hamilton paramedics have more options to provide safe and appropriate treatment for a palliative care patient at home, instead of taking them directly to the emergency department. This approach will help reduce strain on the hospital system as the province continues to respond to the third wave of COVID-19.

In Hamilton, prior to the launch of this program, paramedics were required to bring 9-1-1 patients to overcrowded hospital emergency departments, even when there were other appropriate care options available in the community.

Under this innovative patient care pilot, eligible palliative care patients can now receive appropriate care directly by the paramedic or in the community as appropriate. All Hamilton paramedics have been specially trained and can now treat palliative care patients in their homes under appropriate medical guidance and supervision. At any time the patient can request to be taken to the emergency department.

“As Hamilton’s hospitals continue to face unprecedented capacity pressures during the third wave of the pandemic, this new model of care will enable our world-class paramedics in Hamilton to support our most vulnerable patients in the most appropriate setting,” said Donna Skelly, MPP for Flamborough-Glanbrook. “This approach will avoid unnecessary visits to the emergency department.”

In Hamilton, palliative care patients who dial 9-1-1 will have the option to be treated on scene for pain management by trained paramedics who may administer medications for a variety of symptoms.  If they agree, patients will be referred for follow-up care with their primary palliative care team.

“Thanks to the approval of this innovative and transformative care model, Hamilton paramedics can more appropriately treat some of our most vulnerable patients with the right care, in the right place, at the right time” said Michael Sanderson, Chief of the Hamilton Paramedic Service. “Giving palliative care patients the choice to be treated by paramedics in the comfort of their home ultimately improves the quality of life for patients and their families.”

The Palliative Care/Treat-and-refer model launched in Hamilton on April 7, 2021. The pilot project will be in place for one year, after which it will be evaluated to assess outcomes, identify possible program adjustments and how to implement new models of care.

To date, similar 9-1-1 models of care pilots have been approved in 33 municipalities across Ontario.

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