Celebrating Allied Health Professionals


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SUPPLEMENT TO THE FREE PRESS • SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2022 2 Celebrating Allied Health Professionals By Alexandra Wenger "The level of care that a paramedic is trained to provide goes far beyond most people's understanding of what we can do. Our full scope of practice covers a wide range of clinical activities, so working in a hospital setting is really an extension of the skills that we use out in the field." – Heather Freeland, retired advanced care paramedic. F or Manitoba paramedics, there is no such thing as a typical day. With a wide scope of practice that sees them stabilize, diagnose and treat patients who are extremely ill or in- jured, most paramedics spend their days working in an ambulance. But their shifts may include any combination of 911 re- sponse, patient transport between facilities or — in some areas — care offered in the community. In a word, paramedics will tell you that their days are unpredictable. As Manitoba health-care facilities deal with staffing vacancies and a workforce fa- tigued from more than two years of pandem- ic response, some paramedics have raised their hand to support care in new ways and in different locations, including emergency departments (EDs). "As paramedics, we regularly care for critically ill patients up to the point where we transfer their care to a hospital team," says Jennifer Cull, a Shared Health paramedic. "Our education in the paramedic training program gives us such a wide range of skills and the ability to adapt to a variety of circumstances in order to help clients and communities both on and off the truck." Cull is one of a number of paramedics across Manitoba who stepped forward to support the ongoing delivery of care in an ED that was experiencing staffing challenges. Paramedics signed up for shifts when the call went out, often com- muting long distances to work in the hospital(s) on their days off — even as their emergency response teams have been facing similar staffing challenges of their own. "I felt valued and appreciated in this role," says Cassy DeJong, a Shared Health para- medic in the Interlake-Eastern region who signed up to support Pine Falls. "Many times, people in the community told me that they were very grateful we were there. It was really nice to hear, and to know, I was help- ing to make a difference for the community and the facility." The paramedic model saw qualified para- medics complete an orientation and some additional training before accepting shifts in EDs located in Southern Health-Santé Sud (Altona) and the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority (Pine Falls). There, the paramedics worked to their full scope of prac- tice alongside nurse and physician col- leagues, providing temporary support that allowed the facilities' EDs to remain open. "Being able to come in and take on this role, we offered valuable support where it was needed. We're a fantastic resource with a great foundation of knowledge. Us step- ping into a clinical role just built on that," Cull says. "In this clinical role, I was able to see what happens after we say goodbye to the patient — the labs, the treatments and the progression of the patient. I now have a greater appreciation of what goes on behind those doors, a whole umbrella of care." Heather Freeland, a retired advanced care paramedic, came back from retirement when she heard about the opportunity to ex- pand training for paramedics who signed up to work in this new environment. Since her return, Freeland has led paramedic training for ED support in both the Altona and Pine Falls locations. "By working in the hospital setting, para- medics are able to work and practise their full range of skills that they can then take with them out into the field. This is especially beneficial for rural paramedics," Freeland says. "Our intention was to prepare para- medics to work alongside the physician, nurse and entire health-care team, highlight- ing their skill set while providing some relief to our colleagues in the hospital." By all accounts, the paramedics' help has been welcomed, not only by the teams they worked alongside but by the communities they served. "Generally, when we are asked to help, we respond with 'Where do you need us and how fast can we get there?' Being able to support communities like Pine Falls was an- other opportunity for us to do what we do well: adapt to our environment, make deci- sions under pressure and implement the most appropriate and available interven- tions," DeJong says. "We are truly here to help, and the best part is seeing pretty incredible patient care come out of it." From Nov. 6 to 12, Manitoba's health ser- vice delivery organizations are celebrating the diverse and highly specialized skills of our province's allied health professionals. Representing nearly 200 disciplines work- ing in every sector and area of our health system, allied health professionals are vital members of our health-care teams. As paramedics, we regularly care for critically ill patients up to the point where we transfer their care to a hospital team." — Jennifer Cull, a Shared Health paramedic S UPPLIED PHOTO From left to right: Jennifer Cull, a Shared Health paramedic in the Interlake-Eastern region; Heather Freeland, a retired Shared Health advanced care paramedic in the Interlake-Eastern region, Cassy DeJong, a Shared Health paramedic in the Interlake-Eastern region " W e a r e t r u l y h e r e t o h el p . " — C assy D eJ o n g Beyond the lights and sirens PARAMEDICS SUPPORT CARE IN NEW WAYS, DIFFERENT LOCATIONS Shared Health Emergency Response Services delivers air and land ambu- lance services across Manitoba. Inter- ested in a career as a paramedic? Find out more at healthcareersmanitoba. ca/ paramedics Paramedics in Manitoba are a regu- lated health profession under the College of Paramedics of Manitoba. For more information on the college, or paramedic scope of practice, visit collegeparamb.ca.

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