Salt Spring has a new medical resource – a specialized paramedic who does home visits.
Chris Griffiths is a rural advanced care paramedic and part of the provincial Community Paramedic Program. The program, started in 2015, is now in close to 100 rural and remote communities in the province, but only six communities have been selected for advanced care paramedics who have higher levels of training allowing them to specialize in advanced care of medical patients.
Griffiths is the first in the province to take on this new position.
Community paramedicine is intended primarily for older adults living with chronic conditions such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, or at risk of falls. Patients are referred to the program by their doctor or other health care professionals. The combination of education and regular home visits is intended to keep people comfortable and safe in their homes and to reduce stressful and expensive trips to the emergency room.
The Community Paramedic program is meant to work with existing health providers in order to bridge health service delivery gaps in the community. Community paramedics do not replace existing health care professionals, but rather fill in missing pieces of care.
Griffiths is able to assess and treat higher acuity patients with chronic conditions. His services include home visits and support for local physicians and nurse practitioners in residential care facilities and the hospital. He also offers community health education, as well as support for palliative clients. A uniquely Salt Spring balance will be created in his work.
One of the visual differences between a primary paramedic in the community and Griffiths is that he travels in a community paramedic vehicle, not an ambulance. It’s much smaller and not equipped for transporting people, just medical supplies. For any medical emergency, you should continue to call 9-1-1.
Griffiths started his paramedic career here on Salt Spring in 2002. He was an active member of the local crew until moving temporarily to Vancouver to gain experience working full time. His wife Jazzi is also a paramedic, and they juggled job demands with raising two children, maintaining an on-going connection to Salt Spring where their parents continued to live. Chris’ completion of the ACP training, the creation of this job and his winning of the position mean that the family is able to return full-time to Salt Spring and a more sustainable family life. Jazzi has also shifted her ambulance work to be solely on the Salt Spring crew, where she too started her career. The stabilization of paramedic staffing in rural and remote communities is one of the key objectives of Community Paramedicine.
Griffiths started field work July 3 and is scheduled for Tuesday-Friday 08:00-18:00. People who believe they could benefit from the care of a community paramedic should talk to their doctor or primary health care provider for a referral for this free service.