Johanna Heinrichs is 93 years old and lives on her own in a seniors’ housing complex in Rosetown. She is originally from Holland, and farmed in the Fiske/Herschel area for most of her life until she moved into Rosetown two years ago.
Johanna says she has good days and bad days, but she knows her body and is not afraid to ask questions when things don’t seem right. As part of her medical care, she receives home visits from the Rosetown Community Paramedicine providers.
Community Paramedicine is a relatively new service Rosetown EMS provides for clients in their community. Under this program, clients benefit from regular visits from paramedics within their own home. Varying types of Community Paramedicine are currently offered in several other communities across Saskatchewan.
Johanna has developed a good relationship with the paramedics who visit her in Rosetown. She likes to joke around with them when they come to see her.
Primary Care Paramedic Genessa Pankratz checks the vitals of client Johanna Heinrichs.
Johanna was the fourth client to begin receiving Community Paramedicine visits in Rosetown when the program started in December of 2016. The program has now grown to 19 clients they see regularly. They also do inpatient walks and exercises for physiotherapy in acute care and typically have 2-4 patients they work with daily.
“The best part of the paramedicine visit is seeing them when they open the door and say, ‘Good Morning, Johanna – how are you doing today?' They are just like family to me! One paramedic that used to come and see me that relocated to another community popped in for a visit the other day, and it just made my day. I was so happy to see her,” says Johanna.
The paramedics providing service through this program are the same as those responding to 9-1-1 calls. Community Paramedicine is a service provided when they are not on emergent calls.
“The best part of the program is that it is helping seniors maintain their independence and stay home safely longer,” explains Eric Blosky, EMS Coordinator for the Rosetown/Kyle area. “It also helps them not feel so isolated, as they are getting some social interaction from the visits.”
How Community Paramedicine works
On the initial home visit to the patient, the paramedics complete an overall health assessment, see how the client is doing and determine how they can best help them including how often the client requires service. They will also complete a home safety check.
Johanna receives a visit three times a week from this team. During a typical visit to Johanna, paramedics take her vitals (blood pressure, blood sugar levels and pulse), ask her how she is doing on her medications, and just see how she is feeling overall.
The program is very rewarding to all the paramedics who visit the clients.
”The most satisfying thing is to know you make a difference in someone’s life within the community. You get to see this as you continue to follow up with the clients over time,” says Erin Burton, paramedic in Rosetown “With Johanna, I really enjoy the stories she has to tell about her life. I think we help the clients feel less anxious about their health concerns by listening to them and providing them with regular visits. They know that we can pass on any concerns to their health care providers. I think several of our clients have come to rely on us quite a bit, even if it is just for that reassuring social visit.”
For some clients, the program provides them comfort in the knowledge that someone is looking out for them, especially those who may not have family close by who are able to drop by and check in with them on a regular basis. It can help alleviate some anxiety when they aren’t feeling well. The visits can also empower them to take control of their own health and feel comfortable enough to ask health related questions.
“We give them an opportunity to voice their concerns without feeling like they are pestering someone,” says Warren Robinson a paramedic who participates on the calls. “They feel like they have some control over their lives.”
One of the Rosetown ambulance units used for Community Paramedicine.