By Mike Baker
Haliburton County is set to receive a $3.25 million provincial windfall to expand the community’s paramedicine for long-term care pilot program.
In a news release distributed to media on March 9, Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, said this initiative will help provide seniors with better access to the healthcare services they require while remaining in the comfort of their own home.
“This new funding will help keep our loved ones at home longer and avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital,” Scott said. “Thanks to our Haliburton County Paramedic Service, this program will help even more seniors and has the potential to delay the need for long-term care.”
The additional funds will allow local paramedics to carry out more non-emergency home visits to local residents and increase in-home testing procedures, and allow for ongoing monitoring of changing or escalating conditions to prevent or reduce emergency incidents for seniors. The program includes online and virtual supports, which means area residents are able to access health services 24/7, according to the news release.
Tim Waite, chief of the Haliburton County Paramedic Service, informed county council last week that the municipality will receive the funding in stages over the next three years. He said he was in the process of figuring out the logistics of the program, and would be providing another report to council later this month. He suggested it would include recommendations for increased staffing, vehicle purchases and equipment upgrades.
“I look forward to seeing how this will roll out. It’s a fabulous project. I know it’s a lot of work for you, Tim, but it will be worthwhile in the end,” said county warden Liz Danielsen.
This announcement is part of a second phase of funding province-wide to bolster community paramedicine programs all across Ontario. Waite noted that Haliburton County qualified simply because it had an existing paramedic program.
In October 2020, the province partnered with five communities in launching the program – in Brant County, Cochrane, Ottawa, Renfrew County and York Region. The rollout was considered a success, and the program was later opened up to a further 29 communities, including Haliburton County.
According to Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s Minister of Long-Term Care, this program helps to provide seniors, their families and caregivers with assurances and “peace of mind” that their needs will be taken care of at home while they wait to transition into a long-term care home.
“Expanding the program across the province means that more of our loved ones can access services from their own homes, potentially even delaying the need for long-term care, while still providing the quality care and service they need and deserve,” Fullerton said.