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Community Paramedic Program offers new at-home bedside testing

Paramedics and Pancakes event was an opportunity to raise awareness about the Community Paramedic Program where patients can be tested for things like urine analysis and blood work in their own home.

Based on the steady flow of people going in and out of the free wellness check and pancake breakfast at the Davedi Club Saturday morning, the event was well received.   

Janice Bennett made it a point to get her blood pressure checked at the Paramedics and Pancakes breakfast.

“I think it is something everybody should do (get their blood pressure checked). This is free and you get breakfast besides. What more could you ask for?” laughed Bennett.

People of all ages took advantage of the opportunity to get a check on their blood pressure levels.

Community paramedic Tim Kerr and his partner were kept busy taking blood pressure readings throughout the morning.

“I didn’t see anything that was terribly alarming. We’ll generally see a wide range of vital signs and usually, if I see blood pressure that is a little higher than normal, I’ll try to ask that person if they’ve been prescribed medication and whether they’re taking it regularly,” said Kerr who did ask a few people to speak to their family doctor.

“And to keep an eye on how much salt they’re taking in, things like that, that may be affecting their blood pressure.”

The Paramedics and Pancakes event has been around for roughly six years.

“I still remember the first year we did this, somebody was taken away in an ambulance because their vitals were very alarming,” recalled Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.

“So it is just a constant reminder to take care of your health. I call this a spring tune-up. And it is a great way to get a better understanding of the role of the paramedics here in North Bay, and the home services that they offer ”  

Bryce Gartner, Commander of Community Paramedicine says the breakfast is an opportunity to raise awareness by bringing attention to the Community Paramedic Program, under the District of Nipissing Paramedic Services.

“This program is fairly new, so not a lot of people are even aware of it, not only citizens but family doctors, and clinics. Those agencies that we want to get integrated into, they’re still not aware of it. So this is a great opportunity to meet people, show them our medical equipment and tell them what we can do.”

What they can do is make it easier for people to get tested at home.

“The whole idea is we’re targeting patients where it is hazardous or unsafe for them to leave their home, so home-bound patients.”

Thanks to new equipment, they are able to do more bedside, in the home now.

“We are fortunate enough to include bedside urine analysis and bedside blood chemistry in our program. They are fairly new to our program,” shared Gartner.

“We need a requisition from a physician or primary care practitioner and then we can go into the home and do that testing. Therefore the patient doesn’t have to leave their home, be transferred in the cold in the winter, exposed to different things. We can do it right at the home and transmit the results to the doctor. And then the doctor can write a prescription immediately.”

Community paramedics are available seven days a week from eight to eight.

“You have to be in our program. Typically we accept referrals from your doctor, but we will take self-referrals occasionally, but we prefer them from a physician or primary care practitioner because we get a history with it. So if your doctor was to call and say, ‘Can you go do blood testing or urine analysis on this patient?’ we can do it on a weekend."

The benefits of working with patients in a home bedside manner are numerous.

“It takes a patient out of the emerg system. So if that patient was going to have to go to the emerg department to get this done, that’s one less non-urgent person that is taking up a bed in that department. More important, is the disruption to the patient themselves. So this poor patient now has to get transferred, and the wait time might be hours and hours, if they live far out of town it is a long drive. Patients do better in their own home. They’re safer in their home. So if we can go in and get these results in 20 minutes, it speeds up the entire process. They could have that prescription in their hand that afternoon.”     

The program came into existence in 2014, with only one medic.

“And then there was a big expansion in the spring of 2021 and we were able to take on five new medics and expand the scope of practice. So it was quite a big jump for us,” stated Gartner.