Paramedics hone in on 9-1-1 "hotspot" buildings to help isolated residents

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Each year Toronto’s Central Ambulance Communications Centre responds to more than 400,000 calls for 9-1-1 emergency care, but not everyone calling in has a critical emergency. After taking a closer look, one paramedic discovered that some buildings in the city are "hotspots" for 9-1-1 calls, meaning the residents made more than 100 9-1-1 calls a year -- three times the average. Jessie Lee, a community paramedic and systems engineer developed a "frequent caller" algorithm that pinpointed those buildings. Residents were often elderly, socially isolated and had few outside supports, and relied on emergency care for their regular health care. The discovery led to an innovative solution: Paramedics have started "pop-up clinics' in several Toronto Community Housing buildings where they check patients' blood pressure and general health. The result is an 18 per cent reduction in calls from the buildings. And as Dr. Goldman discovered when he visited, there's also another significant health benefit -- residents feel less isolated and lonely. Professor Verna Menec, the Canada Research Chair in Healthy Aging says that may go a long way to improving their health, since a recent study found loneliness was as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

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