BC Emergency Health Services earns Accreditation

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After a rigorous review, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) has earned accreditation, as the organization continues to further align its patient-first approach with other health care services in British Columbia.

BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) is responsible for the delivery and governance of pre-hospital emergency medical care and inter-facility patient transfer services through the BC Ambulance Service and the BC Patient Transfer Network.

BCEHS successfully fulfilled the requirements of Accreditation Canada’s Qmentum Program which focuses on quality and safety throughout all aspects of a health care organization`s services.

“Becoming accredited is an important step towards seamless integration within the health care system,” said BCEHS Executive Vice-President Linda Lupini. “The accreditation journey has helped all employees understand their role in supporting and providing high-quality patient care.”

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In October, the Accreditation Canada survey team assessed BCEHS’ leadership, clinical programs and services against national standards and required organizational practices (ROPs). The survey team spent five days visiting 59 BCEHS sites across the province – from remote ambulance stations and regional headquarters, to crews handing over care at hospitals and everything in between.  The Accreditation Canada final report indicates that BCEHS met 88 per cent of all criteria as well the requirements for 15 of the 16 ROPs.

“We know there is still more we can do to improve the care we provide,” Lupini said.  “Moving forward, we’ll use accreditation as our blueprint for enhancing the services we provide for both our patients and employees.”

Vanderhoof Unit Chief Colin Clyne, who has worked for BCEHS for 32 years, agrees.  He believes the focused direction provided by accreditation has brought positive changes throughout the organization. “Accreditation is a tool that helps us all do our jobs better,” Clyne said. “Best practices are presented within the framework of why and how they can help us improve the patient care we provide. They are goals that we are striving to meet at every opportunity.”

BCEHS is a vast and complex organization that not only provides pre-hospital care to diverse populations in remote, rural and urban communities throughout the province; but also coordinates the inter-facility transport of patients with receiving and sending facilities. Approximately every minute of every day a paramedic crew is dispatched to an incident.  Clinical nurses and dispatchers coordinate over 260 patient transfers daily.  Critical care paramedics respond to over 6,700 events via air ambulances annually.

“BCEHS has a large mandate and there are a variety of nuances and intricacies within every facet of the care we provide,” Clyne said.  “What the accreditation process does is it focuses the organization on what unites us all, patient care and safety.”

The accreditation team noted excellence in care at both the practitioner and patient level as an organizational strength.  Paramedics and dispatchers are passionate about patient care and welcome ongoing professional development and technological advancements to support improving services.

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“The unwavering personal commitment I see in so many of our staff members who dedicate themselves to helping others is our greatest resource, “ Lupini said. “Now our job is to develop ways to support their work and make their jobs easier.”

One way BCEHS is supporting its frontline staff is through the implementation of innovative care models such as community paramedicine, an initiative that will employ paramedics to provide health care services, within their scope of practice, in non-urgent settings. Successful community paramedicine programs in Alberta and Saskatchewan have resulted in fewer medically unnecessary 911 calls and improved patient satisfaction. The BC Government has committed to creating at least 80 new full-time-equivalent positions at BCEHS to support community paramedicine programs throughout the province over the next four years.

In addition, BCEHS is investigating opportunities to shift the focus of pre-hospital care from transport to more patient-centred and pre-emptive care in order to help alleviate the demands on paramedics and hospital emergency departments.

Accreditation is an ongoing commitment to continuous quality improvement through the pursuit of best practices.  Accreditation Canada supports this commitment through an ongoing survey process to ensure consistent national standard compliance.

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