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The EHS System Support team: Providing a behind-the-scenes lifeline during COVID-19

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As word came out of China in late December and early January of a mysterious virus that was beginning to spread, Gordie Parker and his team got to work in ensuring a stable supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the virus’ eventual arrival in Nova Scotia.

Emergency Medical Care already had a stockpile of PPE, but the issue for Parker and his team was determining what their future needs might be for a virus that was still more than two months from coming to these shores.

“We were just seeing things coming, seeing what we could find, and it just got busier as time went on,” said Parker, the manager of Logistics and Materials Management.

In normal times, Parker’s team, which includes Ryan Stronach, Sean O’Leary, Mark Rice, and Richard Corning, is tasked with delivering medical supplies and equipment to stations across the province and two fleet centres in Dartmouth and Sydney.

Their duties also include facilities management, tasks which could not be put aside even amid a pandemic.

“We couldn’t let things go away – there were certain things we had to keep on top of,” Parker said. “So we continued with making deliveries as usual.”

Eventually, however, sourcing PPE became a 24-hour job, and the entire team came together to get it done.

Jill Burke joined the team in December, moving over to the Wilkinson station from her regular duties supporting the EHS Medical First Responder program.

As the Logistics Team Lead, Burke immediately got to work in helping source PPE, including hand sanitizer, gowns, gloves, disinfectant wipes, and goggles.

“We had to find different vendors…relationships were built to get some masks and PPE stocked up for when [the virus] came to Nova Scotia,” said Burke.

There were a lot of sleepless nights, but Burke said the pressure has begun easing in recent weeks.

“All those things that stopped shipping are now shipping again – so we were able to get a supply of surgical masks, we were able to get a supply of gowns. Different things are starting to kind of move again.”

For his part, Parker said the experience has been exhausting at times, but credits his family for helping keep him focused.

“You’re no good to yourself or anybody else [when you’re mentally fatigued]. You’ve got to stop, take a break, and re-focus,” he said.

But the major credit for keeping paramedic PPE supply at good levels throughout the pandemic goes to his small but mighty team, he said.

“The team has been excellent, you couldn’t ask for anything more. They’ve dug deep down, they’ve worked extra hours, they’ve made extra phone calls,” he said.

“You couldn’t ask for a better team – everyone has contributed and gone the extra mile to ensure all frontline and support staff have the proper equipment, supplies and PPE”.

Chatham-Kent EMS proves that COVID precautions are having positive results

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The recent success of Chatham-Kent’s Long Term Care Home COVID-19 swabbing initiative has proven that enhanced public health measures established in response to the pandemic are working. 

On April 21, 2020, Ontario issued a new testing directive as part of the province’s COVID-19 Action Plan for Protecting Long-Term Care Homes.  Chatham-Kent Public Health, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA), Chatham-Kent EMS and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent responded to this call by immediately forming a partnership to systemically carry out testing of all staff and residents in Chatham-Kent’s Long Term Care Homes (LTCH). 

Testing commenced on April 24, 2020 and was completed on May 13.  Results of this testing produced 100 per cent negative results amongst 926 staff members and 765 residents from Chatham-Kent’s seven LTCHs.  Approximately 85% of staff and 95% of residents were tested as part of active surveillance; staff and residents not tested were due to reasons related to resident consent or behaviour, and staff scheduling difficulties and leaves of absence.

Each home was contacted individually to establish testing timelines and logistics.  CKHA’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre assisted CK Public Health and the Chatham-Kent EMS Community Paramedic Program with testing in these homes.  In some cases, the homes chose to do the swabbing themselves.  The new directive ensured that all residents and staff of LTCHs were offered testing even without symptoms. 

“I’d like to thank our Community Paramedics who answered the call to help our partners carry out proactive testing for our most vulnerable populations.  It’s been a team effort since the beginning to ensure our community remains healthy during this pandemic,” said Donald MacLellan, General Manager, Chatham-Kent EMS.    

Congratulations to everyone at CK Public Health, CKHA and Chatham-Kent EMS – these positive results are a major accomplishment for your community!

A Paramedic Services Week thank you message from Erik Sande

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Paramedic Services Week is being recognized across Canada between May 24-30. This year’s theme is “Pandemic: Paramedics on the Front Line” and reflects the important role paramedics are playing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the hardships and challenges they are facing, they are continuing in their roles on the frontline, providing care as quickly and safely as possible.

In the following video, Erik Sande, President of MHS, takes a moment to thank paramedics for their tireless efforts to keep patients and communities safe. Every day, they are heroes to countless Canadians and we couldn’t be more proud of them.

Perth County Paramedics launch Community Outreach program

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Perth County Paramedic Services has launched a new program in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Paramedic Community Outreach Program is aimed at bringing supportive care to patients with complex medical needs in their homes and in community settings when otherwise these individuals may not be able to access traditional health care supports or coronavirus assessment centres.

This mobile healthcare resource is focused on providing advanced assessment for individuals referred to the team who might benefit from treatment and referral to palliative supports and for those that require testing for the novel coronavirus by bringing the testing centre to them.

The primary purpose of this program is to complement the existing health care resources in Perth County and to assist with the challenges created by the current pandemic. Perth County Paramedics strive to provide community-based health solutions for residents of Perth County. The vision is to enhance patient care and the overall patient experience for pre-determined vulnerable patient populations that requires additional care and support to keep them at home or in the community.

To prepare for this program, six paramedics recently completed a custom training program related to COVID-19 testing procedures and Palliative Care within the community in collaboration with the Huron Perth Public Health Unit and the South West Palliative Care Network.

To date the team has performed approximately 200 COVID-19 tests in Perth County’s Long-Term Care facilities, Early Years Centres and for isolated vulnerable patients within the community.

#StrongerTogether

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In response to the recent tragedy in Nova Scotia, Medavie is contributing $100K to the Stronger Together Nova Scotia Fund to support the immediate and long-term needs of the individuals, families and communities impacted by that province’s recent tragedy. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone touched by this tragedy, and a heartfelt thank you to our colleagues at Emergency Health Services and to all frontline personnel who dedicate their lives to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our communities.  

Caring for our Communities

Caring for our communities is at the heart of the Medavie Health Foundation.  Through our Foundation, Medavie is proud to support the Atlantic Compassion Fund (ACF) with a $750K contribution as part of our $5 million COVID-19 Response Fund focused on food insecurity and mental health supports. Managed by United Way Halifax in collaboration with the 10 United Ways across Atlantic Canada, ACF is helping meet the urgent and immediate needs of vulnerable people in communities throughout the region.

Free virtual mental health resource (BEACON) available to Medavie employees and their families (16+)

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Medavie’s mission is to improve the wellbeing of Canadians. This is especially true for our team members and front line healthcare workers as they continue to keep patients and communities safe throughout this pandemic. That is why we have invested in BEACON, a digital cognitive behavioural therapy resource to support mental health and assist in adapting to this ever-changing new normal.

“We know that you face challenging circumstances,” said Bernard Lord, CEO of Medavie. “And we also know that the current situation may be adding even more pressure to you and your immediate family. That’s why Medavie has provided access to BEACON – designed by top experts and it is clinically proven to help people who are struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. As we continue to care for patients, I encourage you to take advantage of this new service and to take care of yourself and each other.”

Through Medavie, all employees and their families (16+) have access to BEACON – including full-time, part-time, term, casual, union and non-union staff. Their team of psychologists will draw on their experience to provide confidential guidance and advice to help our employees protect their emotional health and wellbeing.

We encourage you to learn more by visiting the Medavie Health Services BEACON website: info.mindbeacon.com/bmh347 to learn more.

EM/ANB awarded Exemplary Standing by Accreditation Canada

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Congratulations to everyone at EM/ANB for being accorded the highest level of performance, Exemplary Standing, by Accreditation Canada after its recent on-site survey.

This significant achievement comes after the peer reviewers from Accreditation Canada visited EM/ANB and EMP sites to share their expertise, evaluate the extent to which it meets national standards of excellence, and make recommendations. The evaluation focused on system-wide standards for leadership and governance, as well as service excellence standards that included home care services, infection prevention and control and medication management for community organizations.

At the end of their process, EM/ANB was rewarded with a decision of Accredited with Exemplary Standing under the Qmentum accreditation program.

This is a remarkable accomplishment after only two full years of operation as EM/ANB and is a testament to all its staff and the work they do in our communities. Together, they are delivering innovative care that New Brunswickers deserve, in the place they want it – and we couldn’t be more proud of what they have accomplished.

COVID-19 Funding Support – Caring for our communities

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Through the Medavie Health Foundation, we are committing $5 million to support our communities in responding to COVID-19. The funding will focus on initiatives addressing food insecurity and the mental health needs of adolescents and frontline responders coping with COVID-19-related anxiety and post-traumatic stress in areas where our employees live and work. In addition to addressing immediate needs, it will also support community organizations as they manage through – and beyond – this crisis.

As a not-for-profit health solutions partner, we are committed to our communities and to improving the wellbeing of Canadians.

A message of thanks from MHS President Erik Sande

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As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds across the country, Medavie Health Services employees are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of their patients and communities. In the video below, Erik Sande, President of MHS, takes a moment to thank you for your selfless efforts during this difficult time and explains how MHS is working behind the scenes to support our employees in every way possible. Every day, you are heroes to countless Canadians – and we couldn’t be more proud of you.

MHS West paramedic saves life on family vacation

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MHS West Paramedic Mitchell Ehr is being hailed as a hero after helping to resuscitate a man who went into cardiac arrest. However, he hadn’t arrived as part of an ambulance team or even in uniform – he was on vacation with family at Edmonton’s Royal Alberta Museum.

As Mitchell recently explained to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, he and his family were leaving the museum after a mid-February visit when they noticed a man lying on the ground, being aided by bystanders who had ripped open his shirt. As soon as he saw that the man was turning purple and struggling to breathe, he knew he needed to jump into help.

Mitchell felt for a pulse and began CPR, before an AED was located and used on the man. After an AED shock and a second round of compressions that lasted about five minutes, the man regained consciousness and opened his eyes.

Mitchell told the StarPhoenix it was the most emotional call he’s been on in his seven years as a paramedic, given that his family and the patient’s family were all there, including kids and grandkids. That fact was not lost on the patient, who later asked to meet Mitchell to personally thank him for the second chance at life and more precious time with his family.

As a result of their selfless actions, Mitchell and the two others who assisted in resuscitating the man – including an off-duty firefighter and another first aider – will be recognized with an award later this year. It’s well-deserved recognition for three people who are now seen as heroes by many.

MHS West paramedic Mitchell Ehr