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Primary care outreach program now permanent

Regional council has endorsed the adoption of the primary care outreach pilot initiative as a permanent program

Region of Durham Paramedic Services administers the program.

The pilot, a partnership between the Region’s Health and Social Services Departments, began in June 2018 in the Oshawa area to provide outreach services to vulnerable populations, including those who are homeless and under-housed, and who may have mental health and addiction challenges.

“The success of the primary care outreach pilot is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff who are out in our communities each day, making a difference,” said Regional Chair John Henry. “Council is incredibly pleased that this initiative has become a permanent program, providing support to our most vulnerable populations in Durham Region.”

The service will continue to be offered in the Oshawa area, consisting of an advanced care paramedic and a social worker, working with community partners to deliver services to these populations and help individuals to connect with community supports.

Subsequently, this program will be reviewed for potential expansion in other areas of Durham Region.

The advanced care paramedic provides assessments, triage and interventions, including blood glucose testing for diabetic clients, medical counselling, and referrals for medical care.

The social worker provides client engagement and assessment, service navigation and referrals to community supports such as addiction and mental health agencies, and counselling for crises, depression, substance abuse, attempted suicide, trauma and other health concerns.

The program team travels to various priority neighbourhoods within Oshawa, providing services Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

As of the end of February, the team provided support to 244 clients.

Of these clients, 46 per cent reported that they were homeless, which included living on the streets, in tents, vehicles and shelters, 26 per cent reported that they had housing, while housing status was unknown for 24 per cent of clients.

Additionally, 15 clients have found housing while the pilot has been active.

“As paramedics, we see the need for this service every day,” said Troy Cheseboro, Chief of Region of Durham Paramedic Services. “Both the advanced care paramedic and social worker have indicated that an important aspect of the program services is to engage with clients, build trust and follow-up on previous referrals to continually provide clients with the connections for needed supports.”

According to Cheseboro the team noted through their services, they have seen an improvement in the number of clients who are willing to seek assistance.