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Regional Victoria’s Community Paramedicine Trial Seeks to Alleviate Strain on Physicians

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A member of a community paramedicine program in north-west Victoria praises the free clinic for offering optimal care bridging the gap between emergency departments and scheduled doctor appointments. According to retired paramedics, the program has demonstrated positive outcomes within the local community. Anticipated data on the program’s long-term effects and cost efficiency is projected to align with overseas models, showcasing reductions in the utilization of emergency services.

When Coral Hendy, a resident of Mildura, experienced a low blood count and couldn’t secure an immediate doctor’s appointment, she knew where to turn for reliable healthcare.

Her trusted source was a community paramedic who offers weekly drop-in health check-ups in the neighboring town of Merbein. This initiative is part of a trial conducted by her local community health service in collaboration with La Trobe University and McMaster University in Canada.

The paramedics participating in the program have transitioned from traditional acute care roles to providing treatment and management of chronic diseases in a community health setting. Coral Hendy, who underwent open heart surgery nine years ago, credits the community paramedics for helping her identify and manage her low blood count.

Ms. Hendy initially considered going to the chemist for assistance but opted for the community paramedicine clinic upon the recommendation of a staff member at the local community health service, recognizing the quicker and more accessible care it provided.

At these clinics, paramedics conduct various health assessments including blood pressure checks, diabetes screening, height and weight measurements, and monitoring of existing chronic conditions. The community paramedic clinics are situated in the small townships of Merbein and Red Cliffs, with additional clinics recently established in Shepparton, Wodonga, and Kerang.

The overarching goal of this program is to decrease the number of hospital admissions and alleviate pressure on rural GPs by providing proactive community-based healthcare services.

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