Niagara EMS temporarily expanding mental health resources

Niagara EMS is expanding Mobile Integrated Health services to support individuals who are struggling with mental health, addictions and homelessness through the Mental Health and Addictions Response Team. Adding a second Mental Health and Addictions Response Team vehicle in the community will allow Niagara EMS to provide greater mental health and addictions coverage geographically to the residents of Niagara.

This initiative is part of a creative partnership with Quest Community Health Centre. Quest employs mental health nurses as part of the Urgent Service Access Team, and offered to temporarily share two of their nurses with Mental Health and Addictions Response Team during this temporary expansion. This is a great example of collaboration between local health care organizations that will ultimately improve service to patients seeking mental health services while in short-term crisis and long-term in the community.

  • Initiative number 1 is supporting individuals who are experiencing homelessness or living within the shelter system. These clients are increasingly medically complex, and resources available to support them are limited and not often accessible in a timely manner. Two community paramedics have been recruited to form a street outreach team. In collaboration with Niagara Assertive Street Outreach (NASO) and local partners, they will provide mobile medical services to individuals who are living rough and need support.

  • Initiative number 2 supports the expansion of Mental Health and Addictions Response Team. Funding has been provided to support additional hours for the mental health nurse role on Mental Health and Addictions Response Team. They will be teamed up with an advanced care paramedic to address the demand for low acuity 911 mental health and addictions related calls and challenges in real time.

Niagara EMS has received one-time funding from the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network for these two initiatives. This funding is temporary, and goes until March 31, 2021. Although this funding is short term, Niagara EMS is hopeful that the value witnessed with existing Mobile Integrated Health programs will be equally recognized with this expansion and the funding for these critical programs can be continued.

Quotes

"Niagara EMS is excited to expand the unique services offered through our mobile integrated health teams to reach a greater number of people in Niagara. Focusing on the homelessness community and those living with a mental illness, Niagara EMS along with key partners such as Quest, make it possible for us to serve our communities reactively in enhanced 911 response as well as taking proactive approaches to reduce the need for people to resort to calling 911."
~ Kevin Smith, Chief Niagara EMS
"Mental health is an important part of overall health and wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and act. Feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, and other emotional or financial stresses are more likely during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s caused by the new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, or lack of physical contact with family members, friends and colleagues, people are feeling overwhelmed. These changes can be even more difficult for people with pre-existing mental health conditions. Hopefully these initiatives allow EMS to provide additional supports for those who are vulnerable and struggling in our community."
~ Marty Mako, Commander, Mobile Integrated Health Programs, Niagara EMS​

Contact

Bryce Brunarski
Niagara EMS
289-783-5281
bryce.brunarski@niagararegion.ca


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