Column: Paramedicine a benefit

n our rural communities, it is not always easy to gain immediate access to primary health-care services.

In our rural communities, it is not always easy to gain immediate access to primary health-care services. The B.C. government recognizes that residents in these communities may face unique barriers in accessing care close to home — so we have taken a significant step to break those barriers down.

Alexis Creek and Anahim Lake are two of 73 rural and remote B.C. communities that will welcome community paramedicine, a program that offers residents enhanced health services from paramedics. Alexis Creek will be provided with one full-time paramedic, while Anahim Lake will receive a half-time equivalent.

The Community Paramedicine Initiative is a key component of our plan to deliver accessible primary health-care services in rural communities. The paramedics will provide basic health-care services within their scope of practice, which will be delivered in non-urgent settings, in patients’ homes, or in the community.

Community paramedicine broadens the traditional focus of paramedics – rather than focusing only on pre-hospital emergency care, they will also assist with disease prevention, health promotion and other basic health-care services. These services may include checking blood pressure, assisting with diabetic care, post-injury or illness evaluation, medication assessment, assisting with respiratory conditions, and helping to identify fall hazards. The paramedics are not meant to replace health-care professionals, such as nurses, but will complement and support their work.

Expanding the role of paramedics is another example of how government is enhancing the delivery of primary care services to British Columbians. Community paramedics are expected to be delivering health services in Alexis Creek and Anahim Lake by early 2017. I am confident that residents of Alexis Creek and Anahim Lake will see improved health-care services in their communities as a result of this initiative. By having greater access to care closer to home, residents will be able to lead healthier lives in the small communities they love.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.