November 11th, 2019

EMS responsible for transporting long-term care patients

By Gillian Slade on June 7, 2017.


gslade@medicinehatnews.com 
@MHNGillianSlade

When someone is placed in a seniors’ residence because they require 24/7 care, it is the duty of EMS to transport them to a medical appointment, says Emergency Medical Services.

It is important to differentiate here between “assisted living” and “long-term care.”

“If they are in a long-term care bed, subsidized by Alberta Health Services, receiving care through AHS, then that is a patient and AHS is responsible,” said Nick Thain, executive director for EMS and interfacility transfer.

This would apply to someone in LTC who perhaps needs to go to the hospital for a test such as an MRI or for a medical procedure. How arrangements are made for EMS to transport them to the hospital depends on the seniors’ facility, but staff at the residence can call EMS to make those arrangements, said Thain.

“For long-term care clients, facility operators arrange for and provide transportation for medically necessary services at no charge to the client,” said Timothy Wilson spokesperson for the minister of health.

Ken Collins’ wife Alice is in LTC locally, requiring 24/7 care. When she recently had to attend an appointment at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, Ken was asked to arrange for her to get there. He says it took numerous calls to AHS senior management and an executive for the home, plus much insistence on his part, before transport arrangements were made by the home. Even then the home called the city’s Special Transit to take her to hospital rather than EMS, said Ken.

Ken does not feel seniors’ homes that provide LTC are aware of the correct procedures.

With a LTC patient being taken to the hospital, EMS takes them, but whether EMS staff stay with the patient while at the hospital depends on the needs of the patient and availability of EMS staff, said Thain.

“Sometimes we will. Sometimes we will bring a family member or someone else who might be able to stay with that individual while they are there,” said Thain, noting if the person will be at the hospital for four or more hours EMS may not be able to stay with the person for the duration.

Someone in a seniors’ residence in assisted or supportive living is considered a resident — a member of the public — and not a patient, said Thain. They do not qualify for EMS transportation in a situation like the one described above.

“For designated supportive living, residents are responsible for covering the costs of transportation to and from a hospital or another setting to get health-care services,” said Wilson. “Complementary shuttle services are available through some facilities, and all operators are expected to support residents who need assistance arranging transportation.”

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