Community paramedics with Medavie Health Services West will be onsite at the John Howard Society in Moose Jaw (15 Hochelaga St. W.) three times a week.

Wellness clinics will be held from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The clinics will offer several services including blood pressure and blood sugar checks, in addition to health assessments. They will also accept unused medications for disposal.

"There's no appointment necessary," said Angela Sereda, manager of mobile integrated health for Medivie Health Services West. "Our community paramedic is just going to be here and be able to provide that wellness clinic and support for individuals who may just want to be checked out and if they have any concerns or questions regarding any medical [issue] or really help to navigate the health care system. We're able to provide support that way."

Sereda explained that a community paramedic doesn't fall into the traditional 911 system. 

"They're paramedics who are either primary care, intermediate care, or advanced care paramedics that take additional training in an advanced certificate program which focuses on palliative care, geriatric care, mental health and addictions, chronic disease management, and is really focused on the primary health care model where we're part of a multi-disciplinary team to really meet individuals and support them in the community and try to keep them where they're at and really meet them where they're at and divert them from the emergency department."

There are currently three full-time community paramedics working in Moose Jaw. One is available each day between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Partial hours are funded through the Saskatchewan Health Authority Mental Health and Addictions Services. 

"Other hours are funded through initiatives and grants like the Healthcare Excellence grant that we just received," added Sereda.

The Improving Equity in Access to Palliative Care Program has provided Medavie Health Services West with $100,000 over four years.

"We often think palliative care as end of life but really palliative care also encompasses the homelessness and vulnerable populations within our community," noted Sereda.

JHS Wellness ClinicPhoto Submitted

She says the community paramedics work closely with community stakeholders including police, the emergency department, primary health care professionals, and pharmacists.

"We really provide supports for mental health and addictions and those in the vulnerable populations within our city and really trying to bring care to them and work with them within their community to keep them really out of the ER and really just providing that client-centered care."

Sereda revealed that another role that community paramedics play is through the connected care model and wrap-around service.

"If we identify individuals that maybe haven't been connected with mental health supports, we can actually refer them in to Mental Health and Addictions through the Saskatchewan Health Authority. We can contact them through their private physician as well and connect them back if they need further medical support. As well as our emergency department has always been really great at providing support where we can really treat individuals and keep them here."

Those attending the wellness clinics won't require any kind of documentation. They will be asked for a few details such as a first name and age.

If someone does require care for a minor injury, the community paramedics will be able to provide that service as they are all advanced care paramedics trained in acute care.

JHS Wellness Clinic(L-R) Angela Sereda and Jody Oakes

Jody Oakes is the manager of justice programming and branch services at the John Howard Society in Moose Jaw.

She says many of their My Place Program clients have been assisted by community paramedics in the past, but having the wellness clinic operating out of their office three times a week will be extremely beneficial.

"They saw that need as needing a place to go to be able to see people," commented Oakes.

She says for a lot of their clients, going to the doctor or emergency room can be a struggle.

"They don't have ID, they don't have the means to get there. It's harder for individuals. Having the community paramedics at our office, and we've worked with them now for quite a while, our people trust them. They are just an amazing group, that whole community paramedic team, they're amazing people, they come into our office, they see individuals and just really breaking down those barriers. It's those relationships and it's that trust. Our people trust them."

She adds that having that walk-in option is a blessing, as many clients would not return if they were sent away with an appointment time and asked to come back later.

The first wellness clinic at the John Howard Society was held last Wednesday.

The My Place Program supports unhoused individuals who need housing and supports, with a special focus on those individuals who are engaged with the justice system. The goal of My Place is to give participants the tools needed to re-engage with the community, and build supportive relationships with other support agencies in Moose Jaw and the surrounding area.

JHS Wellness Clinic