Pemberton to get community paramedic 

News Brief: SLRD parking lot will keep its gravel surface

click to enlarge WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM - COMMUNITY PARAMEDIC Pemberton is getting its own community paramedic.

Pemberton is getting its own community paramedic. Melissa Caldwell will assist health care providers through patient visits and community education.

"It's going to be exciting and a great thing for Pemberton, too," said Caldwell, who moved to the community a year ago.

The program was launched by BC Emergency Health Services in 2015 in three "protype communities."

Since then, it has expanded to 76 communities.

Its stated goal is to bridge health service gaps in rural and remote communities.

Caldwell will work in Pemberton and outlying communities, like D'Arcy and Birken.

"There are sometimes patients that fall through the gaps," Caldwell explained. "Maybe they don't need a critical service right now, but they might in the future."

Caldwell will divide her time between promoting health care and visiting people in their homes.

Currently finishing up her training, she anticipates working with a variety of patients including elderly populations. People managing chronic diseases, multiple medications, and heart conditions need support sometimes, said Caldwell.

Community paramedics are a complement to community nurses. They can be dispatched to people who need less acute levels of care.

Caldwell said the program would be largely "physician driven," meaning doctors will decide which patients receive regular visits.

BC Emergency Health Services is also billing the program as a way to encourage retention, as it gives paramedics who might otherwise be working regular on-call shifts.

Caldwell, Pemberton's sole community paramedic, will work two days a week in the role to start, but that could change going forward.

One of the good things she likes about the program is that it is flexible.

"If Pemberton needs more community education we can offer that or if the need more home visits, we can go vice versa," said Caldwell.

No pavement, no problem

The Village of Pemberton (VOP) council approved a variance at its last council meeting for the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, which is set to expand and renovate its building on 1350 Aster St.

Behind the building sits a small gravel parking lot.

The SLRD asked for permission to keep it gravel. Under current VOP bylaws, it is supposed to be paved.

"Council felt it was tucked away so that dust for neighbours shouldn't be a problem," explained Richman, adding that council may look to change the bylaw in question down the road.

"This is a variance for specific reasons, but it also opens the conversation to the bigger vision," he explained.

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