02/12/2015 10:29 EST | Updated 04/14/2015 05:59 EDT

Saskatoon paramedics to help out seniors at care facilities instead of hospitals

SASKATOON - Under a new pilot project, paramedics will be dispatched to help residents in long-term care homes who need medical attention but not hospitalization.

The Saskatoon Health Region says 200 seniors arrived in emergency rooms over the past three months, but in 70 cases the seniors were taken back to residences without needing to be admitted.

The project will have a paramedic specifically available for medical situations at Luther Special Care Home and Porteous Lodge.

The paramedic can assess if seniors need to go to emergency or if they are experiencing a non-emergency medical issue, like a catheter change or rehydration, that can be treated on-site.

Gerry Schriemer of MD Ambulance says the program aims to reduce wait times in hospital and the inconvenience to the senior of waiting for a non-emergency.

If the three-month pilot project is successful, the program could be expanded to other care homes in the city.

Similar programs have already been established in Wadena and Wynyard.