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On the frontlines of COVID-19

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From the frontlines to the phone lines, Medavie Health Services employees are working tirelessly to protect the health and safety of Canadians and their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an article on Medavie.ca, we look at how several MHS operations teams are playing key roles in virus screening tests and vaccine roll-outs.

MHS West brings comfort to dementia patients

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A paramedic teddy bear has become a familiar sight when helping to calm the fears and anxieties of our youngest patients. Recently, Medavie Health Services West paramedics have been bringing that sense of comfort and care to another vulnerable group of patients: those battling a cognitive disability.

MHS West’s Innisfail, Ponoka, and Wetaskiwin divisions are the first emergency services group in Alberta to distribute Dementia Friendly Resource Kits. The kits include sensory items such as pictures, crayons, puzzles, and an item called a fidget mitt. A fidget mitt is a hand-made fabric sleeve that has two purposes – one to keep their hands warm and two (more importantly) to provide tactile stimulation for the patient which helps to distract them from the uncertainty of the ambulance ride.

The Dementia Friendly Resource Kits are the result of a collaboration between MHS West and the Innisfail Primary Care Network, in partnership with the Community Partners in Action group. The group has been working together with other community partners to help make living with dementia and other cognitive disabilities easier.

Dementia, and other cognitive disabilities such as Alzheimers, has many challenges – both for those living with it and those supporting them. People who suffer from these conditions sometimes experience disorientation, fear, anxiety, and social isolation. That fear and anxiety can become even more pronounced during an ambulance ride, when they don’t understand what is happening or where they are going. Healthcare workers tend to ask a lot of questions and that can be disorienting at the best of times. And long transports in ambulances usually require testing, diagnostics, and procedures, adding to the confusion.

The Dementia Friendly Resource Kits were first introduced to MHS West’s ambulances last year and are now also being distributed to local emergency departments, home care and other community emergency and support service organizations.

EHS Operations EPSO Specialist Program celebrates first year anniversary

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EHS Operations Emergency Preparedness and Special Operations (EPSO) Specialist Program, led by Jay Walker (Manager, EPSO) was officially deployed throughout the province last January (2020). It has been an incredible first year for this dedicated group of highly skilled and trained specialists who, like all many of us, have been on the frontlines of COVID-19.

The focus of the EPSO Specialist Program is to better support and serve EHS paramedics and public safety partners by providing consistent and efficient deployment of EHS specialized resources.

EPSO team members are located in all regions of Nova Scotia and are trained in a number of emergency scenarios, including disaster preparedness, the use of specialized personal protective equipment (PPE), difficult extrications, Pinel restraints, mass casualty/gathering response as well as police emergency response support.

Many hours of intense training go into being an EPSO Specialist, including a physical fitness test, which is completed annually. The physical fitness test is to ensure that each member has the capability to do the job without compromising his or her own safety or the safety of others while performing very demanding physical tasks. 

2020 was no doubt a difficult year and through it all, the EPSO team has been incredibly resilient during the most difficult times our province has seen in decades. Together, the team has been steadfast in holding their team values as their guiding principles, humility, accountability, sincerity and collaboration, which continue to be their mantra.

Congratulations to Jay and the entire EPSO Specialist Program on a very successful first year. Excellent work and kudos to you all! 

COVID-19 Vaccination Roll-Out in Chatham-Kent – CKEMS Becomes a Special Part of History

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As COVID-19 vaccines begin to roll out across Ontario, Chatham-Kent Public Health, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance and our own, CKEMS have been working together collaboratively with the Chatham-Kent Ontario Health Team and community partners to coordinate the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines.

In late January, a dedicated mobile team, made up of paramedics and CK Public Health staff, visited long-term care facilities in the community to provide residents with their first doses of the vaccine (with the second round made available as of February 22). And now, the health system partners in Chatham-Kent have an operational vaccination clinic.

Over the next few months, COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered to priority populations before being opened up to the broader general public for immunization. Currently, through the clinic, staff and essential caregivers at long-term care and high-risk retirement homes are eligible to receive a first dose of the vaccine.

“At CKEMS, we are proud to be working alongside our health care system partners to bring COVID-19 vaccinations to those in our community who are most vulnerable. We look forward to our ongoing work to support the health and wellbeing of our community through the phased vaccine roll-out approach. It’s a proud feeling to be part of this moment in health care history.” — Donald MacLellan, General Manager, CKEMS

You can read more in this article from the Ontario Hospital Association and in the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance news release. You can also see the program in action in the team’s vaccine rollout and vaccination clinic videos. 

Gearing up to spend the day at a local long-term care facility to vaccinate residents.
Working with CK Public Health staff on COVID-19 vaccine administration at local long-term care facilities.
CKEMS paramedics lead drawing up the COVID-19 vaccine at the new COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Site on February 23

Medavie donates $500K towards new Riverview Recreation Complex

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Recently, through the Foundation, we announced a $500,000 donation to help support healthy living and modern recreational spaces for individuals and families in New Brunswick through the development of a new Riverview Recreation Complex.

 “Recreational facilities are at the heart of every community – providing a safe place to discover, connect and create,” said Bernard Lord, CEO of Medavie. “At Medavie, our mission is to improve the wellbeing of Canadians and we believe making a meaningful difference in our communities is more important than ever. The Riverview Recreation Complex will improve access to active living and wellbeing, while enriching the community for generations to come.”

 Rooted in a commitment to accessibility, inclusivity and activity, the new centre will feature a year-round cultural and sporting complex. Medavie’s support will help increase the number of recreational programs and services in the area, including a fully accessible complex for swimming, field sports, public meetings and community spaces.

 We are proud to support our communities and improve the wellbeing of Canadians. For more information, please visit Medavie.ca.

Mental health is important – Check out these resources that are available to you

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As a campaign dedicated to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in Canada, Bell Let’s Talk is recognized all over the world. Today, on January 28, Bell will donate to mental health initiatives in Canada by contributing five cents for every applicable text, call, tweet or TikTok using #BellLetsTalk – including social media video views and use of their Facebook frame or Snapchat filter.

At Medavie, our mission is to improve the wellbeing of Canadians and we recognize the importance of mental health. Through the Medavie Health Foundation, we are focused on supporting initiatives that seek to strengthen access to mental health services and supports for children, youth, and young adults, as well as those who are living with post-traumatic stress. This need is especially true for our team members and frontline healthcare workers as they continue to keep patients and communities safe throughout this pandemic. As part of your benefits, there are a several services available to you and your covered family members.

  • Digital therapist guided program, provided through MindBeacon and available to you and your immediate family members (16+) at no personal cost and offered in English and French, has been designed to help individuals experiencing mild to moderate symptoms related to conditions including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, managing stress, and chronic pain management. MindBeaconhas introduced therapy program customization for First Responders and Frontline Workers.  Click here to access.
  • MindBeacon has introduced Live Therapy sessions that provide secure face-to-face therapy – wherever and whenever it’s most convenient for you. To access these sessions, you pay up front for the service and then submit your claim to be reimbursed under your psychology benefit, as you would for any other eligible claims. Through MindBeacon, you search directly for a therapist online based on your concerns, province and language preferences and then pick a date and time that works for you!
  • Bell Let’s Talk has created a resource hub and Get Help section that houses information and resources about maintaining mental health during these unprecedented times and how to support people who are managing a mental illness as we continue to navigate this new normal.

Thank you for everything you continue to do as we move forward together during these challenging times.

Medavie Awards $50,000 in Scholarships to Exceptional Post-Secondary Students

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Medavie, through its Foundation, has awarded a total of $50,000 in scholarships that will be distributed to 10 exceptional students across four provinces. The scholarships will support recipients in their post-secondary studies and future careers in health care.

“At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives and educational experiences of youth across the country, we were pleased this year to increase the number of scholarship recipients from two to 10. These young Canadians were selected based on their academic achievements and efforts to give back to their communities – all while overcoming challenges in their own lives,” said Joanne Kviring, Executive Director, Medavie Health Foundation. “As part of Medavie’s core mission to improve the wellbeing of Canadians, we hope these scholarships will support each recipient in their studies and path to being part of the next generation of health professionals in Canada.”

Since 2017, the charitable foundation has awarded these annual scholarships to Canadians, aged 17-29, who are enrolled in full- or part-time studies at a Canadian post-secondary school, are pursuing a health-related program of study, and have overcome adversity related to mental health, either through lived experience or a family member.

The Medavie Scholarship honours Pierre-Yves Julien, former CEO of Medavie, who believed in helping communities where employees and clients live and work, and supporting Canada’s next generation of health care leaders. The program aligns with the Foundation’s core causes including adolescent mental health, post-traumatic stress and healthy living.

2020 Scholarship Recipients

  • Ashley Thornton, Fredericton, NB, St. Thomas University (BA in Psychology)
  • Grace Dawson, Thunder Bay, ON, Lakehead University (Nursing)
  • Ruby Gaudett, North York, ON, University of Toronto (BA in Sociology, Minor in Women and Gender Studies and Sexual Diversity Studies)
  • Dylan Morrow, New Ross, NS, Acadia University (Bachelor of Kinesiology)
  • Emily Roden, London, ON Western University (BA, Major in Sociology)
  • Cassie O’Hagan, Barrie, ON, University of British Columbia (BA, major in Psychology)
  • Molly Hingorani, Toronto, ON, George Brown College (Nursing)
  • Blake Colbran, Burin Bay Arm, NL, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Bachelor of Science)
  • Sophia Keast, Toronto, ON, York University (Bachelor of Science, Kinesiology)
  • Ezra Morarescu, Ancaster, ON, Wilfred Laurier University (Psychology)

If you have questions or would like to be notified when the scholarship program opens in Spring 2021, email MHF@MedavieHealthFoundation.ca with “Scholarship” in your subject line.

EHS Operations gives the gift of life

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EHS Operations is once again excited to participate in the annual Sirens for Life challenge in Halifax.

A partnership between Canadian Blood Services and emergency services personnel across the country, Sirens for Life seeks to collect blood donations, which could help save lives.

The goal for this year’s campaign, which includes EHS Operations, Halifax Regional Police, RCMP, and Halifax Regional Fire, is to collect at least 300 units by the end of February.

Ian Kennedy, the Community Relations Paramedic at EHS Operations, is a regular blood donor, so participating in Sirens for Life was something he felt was important to do.

“Giving back in this way is important for me, particularly as I have seen firsthand how people can benefit from blood donations,” he said.

Appointments are necessary to give blood in order to respect physical distancing. Schedule by downloading the GiveBlood app, visiting https://www.blood.ca/en, or calling 1 888 2DONATE (1-888-236-6283).

The Chatham-Kent Community Paramedicine Program is expanding!

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Since 2015, Chatham-Kent EMS has had an established team of community paramedics that have been providing care to patients in the comfort of their homes.

It was recently announced that the Chatham-Kent Community Paramedicine program will be expanding to include an additional 12 hours a day of community paramedicine service to Chatham-Kent. The main objective of this program is to provide services for patients in the community who are at high risk of hospital admission.

Expanding the Community Paramedicine program is just the most recent demonstration of the team’s value within the Chatham-Kent health care system. In February 2020, the Chatham-Kent Community Paramedicine program was recognized by the Ontario Community Paramedicine Secretariat (OCPS), which presented Chatham-Kent EMS General Manager Donald MacLellan and the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) with the Leadership in Community Paramedicine award. The award recognized their ongoing efforts to improve the health of their community and the teamwork they’ve demonstrated in launching and expanding the program.

Congratulations to the entire team on your continued success!

MHS West donates to local foodbank

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On November 5, 2020, MHS West presented a $7,500 cheque to the Innisfail and District Food Bank. With many of the holiday events being cancelled this year dur to COVID-19, it’s wonderful to see our paramedics overcoming these obstacles to make a difference in people’s lives.

Pictured above is John Barry, General Manager MHS West’s Central Alberta Division.  

Thank you for all that you have done to keep the holidays special for your communities. While this year may look a little different in terms of food and toy drives, you are doing wonderful work supporting your community by improving the wellbeing of Canadians. Happy holidays!