Community Paramedicine: improving primary health care in Fort St. James

An initiative by the B.C. Government has been implemented in various communities to improve health-care services in rural areas in B.C.

  • Jan. 25, 2017 2:00 p.m.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

An initiative by the B.C. Government has been implemented in various communities to improve health-care services in rural areas in B.C. and this now includes Fort St. James.

The government added 73 new positions in British Columbia with the intent of expanding access to care for people in rural and remote communities.

And in Fort St. James, changes to the service are improving with the hiring of two new primary care paramedics.

John Ramones is one of these new paramedics and he’s thrilled to take part and see how this service will influence care long-term.

“Once this takes off and evolves, more hiring could take place in the future,” Ramones said.

According to B.C. Emergency Health Services, under this program, paramedics provide basic health-care services within their scope of practice, in partnership with local health-care providers.

The enhanced role is not intended to replace care provided by health professionals such as nurses, but rather to compliment and support the work those important professionals do each day, delivered in non-urgent settings, in patients’ homes and in the community.

According to Mark Rivard, Paramedic Chief at B.C. Ambulance in Fort St. James, this service will certainly enhance care within the community.

“It really is “boots on the ground” care which will in turn, be able to assist people and provide them with services right in their homes,” Rivard said.

For Ramones, the job comes with many benefits and rewards.

“As a paramedic, you are always dealing with different situations, and we offer so many different programs and options for the community,” Ramones said.

“It this gives people flexibility as with home visits for example. As a community paramedic, we are front-line but we also work as health promoters and educators and offer various clinic and workshops.”

Work in the medical field was something Ramones wanted to pursue even before coming to Canada.

He arrived in Fort St. James in November, 2015.

Having been a nursing student in his native Philippines, Ramones decided to take on a career as a paramedic once he arrived in Canada.

“I really like Fort St. James. It reminds me very much of my own community that I grew in back home.”

And being involved in community paramedicine is something he is certainly passionate about as he makes his rounds in Fort St. James.

“This program is set up to help prevent unnecessary 911 calls,” Ramones said.

“For example, many of these calls could have been prevented if medication was taken properly. We are here to help.”

With an aging population in many rural areas, there are more people having difficulty coping with daily living because of health-related problems or life-threatening illnesses according to B.C. Emergency Health Services.

If you have been referred to the community paramedicine program by your family doctor, your community paramedic will provide services as outlined in your care plan.

This may include: checking blood pressure, assisting with diabetic care, helping identify fall hazards within your home, medication, post-injury or illness evaluation and assisting with respiratory conditions.

“It feels good deep inside when you accomplish something like this. It’s rewarding and feels really good inside,” Ramones said.

If you feel you or a family member is in need of community paramedicine services, you may contact your doctor or community health nurse practitioner about a referral.