Press Releases

March 10, 2011

Paramedics to be stationed 24/7 at Main Street Project

New initiative to improve patient safety at Main Street Project and decrease dependence on Emergency Departments and Ambulances.

The Main Street Project will have a paramedic stationed on its premises 24 hours a day, seven days a week starting this April, Helen Clark, Emergency Medical Services and Police Liaison for the Winnipeg Health Region and Jim Brennan, Chief of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service announced today.

The move came following a very successful pilot project that had paramedics stationed at the social services agency. The paramedics assessed individuals brought to the Project by Winnipeg police under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act (IPDA) in order to determine whether they required treatment at an Emergency Department or whether the necessary care could be provided at the facility instead. They also provided primary care services throughout the facility and connected clients with other community-based resources.

Health Minister Theresa Oswald praised the move, calling it a common sense solution to an important issue. “Making sure we enhance health services for individuals at Main Street Project using skilled paramedics, while also optimizing the use of ambulances and redirecting appropriate cases away from our Emergency Departments, results in better patient care for the entire community and more appropriate use of our resources.”

“The pilot project was very successful,” Ms. Clark said. “Because paramedics were able to provide healthcare services on site the number of ambulance calls when they were on duty were significantly reduced compared to when they were off duty.  We believe having a paramedic present 24/7 will not only enhance safety and improve care for people at Main Street Project but it will decrease the number of transfers to Emergency Departments to only those that are absolutely necessary."

Chief Brennan emphasized this means ambulances that would have been tied up on calls to Main Street Project will now be available to handle other calls in the community.

“The pilot project has provided an excellent opportunity to shift the traditional EMS focus from the transportation of patients to hospital emergency departments to providing on-site care and the ability to connect clients with appropriate community health services,” Chief Brennan said.

Main Street Project welcomed the increase in paramedic service at the facility as an enhancement determined from the initial pilot project.

"We are very pleased that the success of the pilot project resulted in having paramedics at our facility 24/7, especially knowing this will improve our clients' safety and access to other health services as needed," Terry Sakiyama, Vice Chair, Board of Directors for Main Street Project said.

The pilot project began in January 2009 in response to a recommendation for an on-site health professional resulting from an inquest into the death of a client in the IPDA area within the facility. The new initiative, the first of its kind in Canada, will result in the hiring of about six paramedics so that one of them will be on duty at all times. The annual operating cost is slightly more than $600,000.

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