Services Board receives government funds to continue patient transfer service

ESPANOLA-MANITOULIN – The Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board (DSB), along with hospital partners on Manitoulin Island and Espanola have received great news in the form of funding from the province toward patient transportation services.

“This is great news, even though it is not permanent funding at this point,” said Fern Dominelli, CAO of the DSB.  “Having a fully functioning patient transfer service is vital for the LaCloche/Manitoulin area as it ensures our paramedics are available to respond to 911 calls and save a life.” 

“Having a reliable patient transfer service (PTS) for medically stable patients is critical for Manitoulin,” said Timothy Vine and Paula Fields, interim co-chief executive officers (CEO) of the Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC).

Nicole Haley, CEO for the Espanola Regional Hospital said, “this is great news for hospital patients who need to travel to Sudbury for diagnostic testing.”

Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health has approved annualized base funding up to $300,000 starting in the 2022 calendar year to support non-ambulance transportation for medically stable patients.

The PTS is a partnership between the MHC, Espanola Regional Hospital and Health Centre and the DSB. This partnership started with a pilot program approved by the Northeast Local Health Integrated Network (LHIN) in March 2013. Last year, the partners signed a three-year agreement, which will provide a personal support worker and attendant in each vehicle

Although the annualized base funding does not cover the costs for this service, it will go a long way to one day having permanent funding for the PTS.

“Although it does not cover the entire service it goes a long way to providing a service long term.” He pointed out the cost of providing the full PTS last year was $460,000.

Mr. Dominelli explained, “now that we have the funding we will be sitting down with our partners and be putting together a plan on how we are going to best use these funds. One of the priorities is to manage the PTS better.” He explained, “when paramedics take patients to Sudbury for diagnostic testing, paramedics don’t wait for patients after 30 minutes because they need to get back to our base to provide emergency.  That, unfortunately, at times leaves the patients and nurses stranded in Sudbury and they have to get back by cab. With the funding for PTS we are hoping to minimize this for medically stable patients as PTS does take patients to Sudbury and wait to return them. Paramedics used to wait for an hour and a half but with all call volumes up, having an ambulance in Sudbury is leaving other communities vacant.” 

He explained that currently we have five ambulances, two in Wiikwemkoong, one in Little Current, and one in Mindemoya and Gore Bay each during the day.”